The Supreme Court recently ruled that even settled case law can change. The law prevents the retroactive application only of statutory laws, not court decisions. Therefore, changes in case law also apply retroactively, as there is no ban on the retroactive application of legal knowledge by the courts. The interest in maintaining 'correct' case law overrides earlier protections afforded to those applying the law; thus, it is paramount to be prepared for changes in case law.
Article 23(1) of the EU Brussels I Regulation sets out minimum requirements for contractual agreements. In particular, the requirements seek to ensure that agreements conferring jurisdiction do not become part of the contract without the knowledge of all of the parties. In a recent case involving the international chemicals industry, the Supreme Court had to consider whether the formal requirements in Article 23(1) had been met.
The Supreme Court recently ruled in a case in which a loan was granted without collateral and obviously served to finance the acquisition of the target's shares. Considering that this withdrew considerable funds from the company, putting creditors at risk without any operational justification, the Supreme Court held that this could not be reconciled with the diligence expected from a reasonable manager.
Under Article XLII of the Code of Civil Procedure, any party that has a substantive claim for information against another party (which it is suing for performance) has a claim for the disclosure of accounts to mitigate serious problems with quantifying the substantive claim if the accounts could help the claimant and if the respondent can be reasonably expected to provide them.
The Supreme Court recently held that jurisdiction for tort cases under Article 7(2) of the Brussels I Regulation must be interpreted only under the regulation. According to the regulation, torts are illegal acts that ultimately require the defendant to pay damages and are not connected to a contract within the meaning of Article 7(1) of the regulation. According to the court, this jurisdiction includes both the place of the original act and the place where the loss occurred or is about to occur.
The Supreme Court recently assessed the protection afforded to trustees by virtue of Section 83 of the Trustee Act 1998, which provides that a trustee cannot be bound or compelled by way of discovery to disclose information and documents about a trust. In Dawson-Damer, a trustee had used Section 83(8) as a basis to refuse a disclosure request. The applicant's case was built primarily on the allegation of a breach of duty (ie, the trustee had failed to consider the applicant's needs).
In addition to contractual fees, winning attorneys are entitled to court-awarded attorneys' fees, which are determined using objective criteria. However, despite being relatively straightforward to calculate, some courts struggle to award attorneys' fees, particularly in disputes involving significant amounts. A recent Superior Court of Justice decision provides clarity in this regard and is likely to set the tone for future disputes regarding court-awarded attorneys' fees.
The relatively new Civil Procedure Code specifically authorises parties to a contract to select a foreign jurisdiction to decide their disputes. Although the language of the code is straightforward, the lower courts are still debating whether the choice of a foreign jurisdiction would set aside the jurisdiction of the Brazilian courts. Until the Superior Court of Justice sheds some light in this regard, it will remain unclear whether Brazilian courts' jurisdiction can be set aside in favour of foreign courts.
Even though Brazil is a civil law country, the New Civil Procedure Code of 2015 has brought elements of common law jurisdictions to the Brazilian courts. Certain precedents rendered by the Supreme Court and the Superior Court of Justice – the country's highest courts for constitutional and federal law issues, respectively – are now binding on the lower courts.
The BVI Court of Appeal recently considered the scope of its jurisdiction to interfere with findings of fact made at first instance. This is the second time in 2018 that the court has addressed this issue. While the threshold for intervention is high, the court will intervene on appropriate occasions. The thoroughness of the evaluation of evidence and the credibility of the judge's conclusions at first instance are likely to be pivotal to that determination.
The BVI courts have again stepped in to ensure that proper thought and process is applied to requests made by foreign governmental bodies. In the first case of its kind to successfully challenge the exercise of the attorney general's powers under the Criminal Justice (International Cooperation) Act, the BVI High Court held that the attorney general is required to do more than rubber stamp the requests received under the act.
In a recent case, the BVI Court of Appeal addressed standing in the context of applications under Section 273 of the Insolvency Act 2003, whereby an aggrieved person can ask the courts to reverse or vary a liquidator's decision. The court held that, as a shareholder of a company in liquidation, the appellant was an outsider to the liquidation who had no legitimate interest that entitled him to standing under Section 273.
In Fairfield Sentry Limited (In Liquidation) v Farnum Place LLC the BVI Court of Appeal varied a costs order based on a material change of circumstances – namely, a decision of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. The BVI court held that the US decision was a "material change of circumstances" which allowed it to vary the costs order by disallowing the costs of Farnum's expert.
The Singapore Court of Appeal recently ruled to reinstate and expand a Mareva injunction against fraudster defendants in a conspiracy claim, providing strong support for an earlier decision of the BVI Commercial Court in related proceedings. The decision demonstrates the importance of consistency between courts in multiple jurisdictions in complex cross-border cases.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently outlined when specific performance will be available in a real estate transaction. This decision is a stark reminder of the pitfalls of acting both in bad faith and without diligence in respect of such a transaction. It is also a reminder that a party to an agreement of purchase and sale cannot insist that time is of the essence if (among other things) it breaches the agreement and does not act in good faith.
In negligence-based actions, defendants routinely issue third-party claims for contribution and indemnity to reduce their liability exposure. As a result, a plaintiff can commence a claim believing certain defendants to have caused its loss but, after successive third-party claims, learn that several other persons might have contributed to the loss. The Ontario Superior Court recently reviewed the law of discoverability with respect to third parties.
In R v Barra the Ontario Superior Court of Justice convicted two businesspeople on charges of bribing foreign public officials in India. This judgment appears to have crept under the radar, but is notable in the context of the enforcement of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act because of the court's views on who is a foreign public official and the requirement that the Crown prove that the accused had knowledge of this status.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently released a significant decision that expands occupiers' liability for violence on their premises and affirms a new privacy tort that censures the publication of aspects of an individual's private life without their consent. The decision establishes a novel cause of action for claims arising from the distribution of an individual's private information – in this case, a sexually explicit video of the plaintiff without her knowledge or consent.
Designated beneficiaries of a life insurance policy have traditionally had a high degree of certainty that they would be entitled to the policy proceeds on the death of the insured. However, this certainty has been jeopardised by a recent Supreme Court of Canada case where a former wife's prior contractual claim to the proceeds of her former husband's life insurance policy precluded his common-law spouse's entitlement to the proceeds as the irrevocable beneficiary.