United Kingdom updates

Arbitration & ADR

Contributed by Clifford Chance LLP
Commercial Court sets aside partial award of LCIA tribunal – time limits for objections to jurisdiction
  • United Kingdom
  • March 15 2018

It is relatively rare for the English courts to overturn awards of arbitral tribunals. However, a recent decision of the Commercial Court did just that, setting aside a London Court of International Arbitration partial award made by a panel of three queen's counsel. The partial award was challenged on the basis that the arbitral tribunal had lacked substantive jurisdiction and the application had been made pursuant to Section 67 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

Court orders trial for fraud allegations raised post-award
  • United Kingdom
  • January 11 2018

In a recent case regarding the enforcement of an arbitral award against Kazakhstan, the English court ruled that in light of new evidence that had not been before the tribunal when the award was rendered, the allegations of fraud raised by Kazakhstan should be fully investigated before a view could be taken as to whether the award could be enforced in England. The court confirmed that public policy is a matter for each state to consider, regardless of whether the courts of another country have ruled on the matter.

Unilateral option clauses – what about Brexit?
  • United Kingdom
  • March 23 2017

Dispute resolution clauses providing for arbitration, but giving one party the exclusive right to elect to refer a particular dispute to litigation before the courts – known as 'unilateral option clauses' – are a common feature in many transaction documents. In light of the result of the UK referendum on membership of the European Union, it is worth considering whether unilateral option clauses remain fit for purpose.

Availability of emergency arbitrator procedures may limit courts' ability to support arbitral process
  • United Kingdom
  • February 02 2017

A recent case has provided useful guidance on the availability of the courts' powers to grant interim relief in support of arbitral proceedings in circumstances where similar relief may be available through the arbitral process. This is the first time that an English court has considered the way in which emergency arbitrator provisions (which remain relatively new in the industry) interact with the courts' powers under Section 44 of the Arbitration Act 1996.

Settlement proposals from the mediator: helpful intervention or tactical minefield?
  • United Kingdom
  • December 08 2016

As mediation increasingly becomes a routine form of alternative dispute resolution, the format of mediation continues to evolve and the typical procedure continues to adapt itself to different types of dispute in which mediation is used. While a number of recent mediations have employed an interventionist tactic to bridge the gap between the parties, this type of process involves a number of risks.


Contributed by Vedder Price LLP
Operating lessor financings: structural overview
  • United Kingdom
  • March 28 2018

With competition among aircraft lessors remaining fierce, airlines are taking an increasing proportion of aircraft on operating leases. The 'wholesaling' of debt financing – where the primary recourse entity on financings is the lessor rather than the airline – is an important recent trend in the aircraft financing market that is likely to continue. Aircraft financiers should be aware of the structural items to consider in executing operating lessor financings and the pitfalls to be avoided.

Split closings: a divide in methods
  • United Kingdom
  • March 21 2018

The inclusion of engine pooling arrangements and rigorous maintenance requirements in operating leases frequently results in engines which formed part of a leased aircraft at delivery being off-wing. Off-wing engines create complications for transaction parties attempting to execute a sale of the aircraft. While these complications are not insurmountable, the marketplace has developed different approaches to address the off-wing engine scenario.

Necessary regulation or the government droning on?
  • United Kingdom
  • August 23 2017

The Department for Transport recently published its response to a public consultation concerning the safe use of unmanned aircraft systems in the United Kingdom. Both in the consultation and the response, it is clear that the government's focus is on ensuring safety, particularly relating to operational issues in the leisure market. However, the response also provides insight into the direction of the government's policy as it affects commercial operators and its determination to develop world-class systems.

Commitment letters not to be taken lightly: how committed are we?
  • United Kingdom
  • December 14 2016

At the outset of a transaction, parties often use a commitment letter, letter of intent or memorandum of understanding to set out the principal terms on which they wish to establish their commercial relationship. The principal terms are often non-binding in nature. The High Court recently referred to an objective test established by the Supreme Court to determine whether a party's intentions were accurately reflected in its initial documentation.

Unjustly enriched seller of aircraft asset: mistakes in sale and purchase transactions
  • United Kingdom
  • September 07 2016

The trading of aircraft assets between industry participants is as dynamic, legally complex and fraught with intense negotiation as ever. Although transacting parties go to great lengths to protect their pre and post-closing positions by attempting to account for all eventualities in the applicable transaction documentation, mistakes that fall outside the protective ambit of such documentation can still occur.

Company & Commercial

Contributed by Squire Patton Boggs
Public register of shareholder dissent
  • United Kingdom
  • February 26 2018

At the request of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the Investment Association has launched a public register of Financial Times Stock Exchange All-Share companies, showing occasions where these companies have experienced substantial shareholder dissent. The purpose of the register is to identify companies which receive a high vote against or withdraw a resolution and to understand the process used by those companies to identify and address their shareholders' concerns.

Carillion and the 'failure' of clawback
  • United Kingdom
  • February 05 2018

A press release by the Institute of Directors suggesting that in 2016 Carillion relaxed the clawback conditions that applied to bonuses has raised questions over remuneration governance. The change seems to have removed 'corporate failure' as a clawback or malus event, substituting conditions so that pay could be clawed back only in the event of a misstatement of financial results or gross misconduct of an individual.

Contracts via email – potential pitfalls
  • United Kingdom
  • January 29 2018

A recent High Court decision has provided a useful reminder of the care that must be taken when administrators enter into pre-contract negotiations and the risk of inadvertently entering into a binding contract before terms are finalised. It also deals with the risks of disposing of assets, even those that are difficult to value, without due process.

Happy new year – or economic meltdown?
  • United Kingdom
  • January 22 2018

While some economists have predicted a bleak outlook for the UK economy in 2018, with Brexit negotiations likely to affect the prospects of any improvement, others are less pessimistic and expect that the fall in the pound following the EU referendum will lead to stronger export growth. The government is advised to broker a deal with the European Union on key issues as soon as possible in order to minimise damage to the economy and avoid handing the advantage to overseas competitors.

Audit watchdog increases size of enforcement unit
  • United Kingdom
  • January 15 2018

The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) has more than tripled the size of its enforcement team over the past five years in response to public criticism over its failure to prosecute auditors for giving clean audits to financial institutions in the months before they were engulfed by the financial crisis. The increased headcount and specialist nature of the team now in place should enable the FRC to move more quickly in instigating and resolving investigations.


Contributed by Fenwick Elliott Solicitors
Claims for overhead and profit: Fluor Ltd v Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industry Co, Ltd
  • United Kingdom
  • April 23 2018

In a recent judgment in an ongoing dispute about the quality of steel monopiles at an offshore wind farm, a judge had to consider claims for overhead and profit. The plaintiff had claimed a percentage for overheads at a rate of 4%, which the judge was reluctant to accept. While the judge suspected that the plaintiff may well have incurred increased overhead costs as a result of breaches of contract, he was not prepared "to pluck a figure out of the air".

Who owns those goods? Unpicking the mess in a construction context
  • United Kingdom
  • April 02 2018

The insolvency of Carillion has placed into sharp relief the difficulties faced by those both up and down the contractual chain for a construction project when one part of that chain becomes insolvent and the ultimate supplier of goods and materials on site has not been paid. There are a number of key considerations parties need to bear in mind if they are unfortunate enough to be faced with a Carillion-type situation and need an answer to the question: who owns those goods?

Is this the end of 'smash and grab' adjudications?
  • United Kingdom
  • March 12 2018

A recent judgment has provided an important clarification in relation to the issue of 'smash and grab' adjudications and will likely be welcomed by the construction industry. Contrary to previous judgments, the court held that it is possible for a paying party to adjudicate on the 'true value' of an interim application in circumstances where no payment or pay less notices were given and there has been a successful smash and grab adjudication.

Corporate Finance/M&A

Contributed by Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP
Cross-border mergers: recent case law upholding freedom of establishment
  • United Kingdom
  • March 07 2018

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that a company was entitled to use and benefit from the EU cross-border merger regime for its corporate reorganisation, even though the only cross-border element was the inclusion of a single, dormant foreign entity solely to allow the otherwise domestic reorganisation to benefit from the cross-border rules. The court's purposive approach to the interpretation of the rules may be relevant in a broader context when determining the effectiveness of corporate actions.

Takeover Panel updates rules governing bidder's intentions for target and its business
  • United Kingdom
  • February 21 2018

The existing framework for the regulation of statements governing a bidder's intentions for a target and its business was introduced to the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers in January 2015. The panel recently published Response Statement 2017/2 to its September 2017 consultation on statements of intention and post-offer undertakings. The resulting amendments to the code set out in this response statement took effect on January 8 2018.

Takeover Panel introduces new rules on asset sales
  • United Kingdom
  • February 14 2018

The Takeover Panel recently published Response Statement 2017/1 to its July 2017 consultation on the sale of a target's assets in competition with a takeover offer and related matters. The amendments to the Takeover Code set out in the response statement took effect on January 8 2018 and include measures to prevent a bidder from circumventing the application of the Takeover Code by purchasing a target's significant assets and a target's board from taking any action which may result in an offer being frustrated.

Proposals for tighter rules on foreign investments
  • United Kingdom
  • November 01 2017

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently published a green paper setting out the government's proposals to reform and strengthen its powers to scrutinise investments in critical businesses and infrastructure which could provide opportunities for foreign investors to "undertake espionage, sabotage or exert inappropriate leverage". The proposals aim to ensure that any national security issues can be considered in a clear, consistent and proportionate way.

Life after Brexit: redomiciling in the European Union
  • United Kingdom
  • August 16 2017

UK groups with members in at least two member states of the European Economic Area can use Societas Europaea or cross-border mergers to redomicile to another European jurisdiction. Both regimes may be helpful to a group looking to redomicile entities to other parts of Europe in the context of Brexit, although both have been the subject of recent judicial decisions regarding the form of transactions which are considered permissible.