Litigation, United Kingdom updates

Equitable compensation for breach of fiduciary duty: a question of loss?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 18 February 2020

A director who extracted money from a company by way of sham invoices may have a defence to an equitable compensation claim for misappropriation of the company's funds. The facts in this case may test the willingness of the trial court (due to hear the matter later in 2020) to develop the equitable remedies for breach of fiduciary duty.

Lenders face more allegations about their actions on restructuring
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 11 February 2020

Representatives of a lender on a board will not automatically impose directors' duties on the lender, but they may apply where a director's specific instructions have led directly to a breach of fiduciary duty. The High Court recently explored this issue in an appeal in the case of Standish v Royal Bank of Scotland.

Bitcoin is 'property' and can therefore be subject of proprietary injunction
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 04 February 2020

Following recent case law on the matter, the High Court has found that bitcoin can be 'property' and can therefore be the subject of a proprietary injunction. In reaching its conclusion, the court adopted the detailed analysis of the issue set out in the UK Jurisdictional Task Force's November 2019 Legal Statement on Crypto-Assets and Smart Contracts, thereby providing a far more detailed judicial basis for the finding than found in previous cases.

Covertly obtained information cannot be deployed until its legitimacy is resolved
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 28 January 2020

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that where a party has covertly obtained confidential information, any dispute as to the information's confidentiality must be resolved before it can be deployed in civil proceedings. Taking this approach preserves the confidentiality of the material and upholds the broad equitable principle that a person who has received information in confidence should not be permitted to take unfair advantage of it.

Witness evidence reform: evolution not revolution?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 21 January 2020

Concern that current practice in relation to factual witness evidence does not achieve the best evidence at proportionate cost prompted the creation of the Witness Evidence Working Group to consider how the current practice could be improved in the business and property courts. The group's recommendations focus on the more consistent enforcement of existing rules with some limited new measures.

Full and frank disclosure means more than just putting relevant matters in evidence – a new year warning
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 14 January 2020

New year, new reminder of the obligation to make full and frank disclosure in without notice applications, this time in the context of a falling out within the UK Independence Party. The obligation can be satisfied only by drawing the court's attention to legal or factual matters which could undermine the applicant's own application; it is not enough to simply put relevant matters in evidence before the court.

Freezing orders: when will past conduct show a real risk of dissipation?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 07 January 2020

In Lakatamia Shipping Co Ltd v Morimoto, the Court of Appeal overturned a decision to discharge a worldwide freezing order. According to the court, evidence that the respondent had previously assisted her son to dissipate assets, while being aware of an earlier freezing order and judgment against him, demonstrated a real risk of dissipation if a second freezing order was not continued against her.

Guaranteed to fail? Oral funding arrangements may be enforceable
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 24 December 2019

Funding arrangements should be in writing or at least impose a primary obligation on the funder to pay. So said the Court of Appeal when exploring whether an oral arrangement to fund a litigant was an unenforceable guarantee or an enforceable agreement to pay in any event. This case shows that as with all contracts, recording them in writing gives all parties certainty.

Oral contract does not prevent agent from being paid in circumstances not catered for in contract
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 10 December 2019

​In a recent case, the Court of Appeal held that an oral contract for a specified introduction fee payable to an agent if a property sold at a particular price did not prevent the agent from being remunerated when that property was sold for a lesser sum (despite the contract being silent on the matter). However, the sum awarded by the court was significantly lower than the introduction fee specified in the contract.

Unfair prejudice saga – Court of Appeal tries to impose some order
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 03 December 2019

The Court of Appeal recently sought to impose some order on an unfair prejudice petition which had been mired in wrangling over pleadings for six years. The decision shows that parties presenting an unfair prejudice petition should ensure that it sets out the grounds for relief as these cannot, in general, later be extended in the points of claim. Where points of claim lack particularity or disclose no basis for the relief sought, requests for further information or applications to strike out should be brought promptly.

Prevention principle – can parties sue for breach of contract occasioned by their own breach?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 November 2019

In a recent High Court case, the defendants successfully resisted summary judgment for breach of contract on the basis of the prevention principle, which excuses a breach of contract where the other party's actions caused it. Following this decision, contracting parties may wish to consider whether to insert express wording into contracts containing no set-off clauses that would exclude this principle.

In-house lawyer prevented from relying on leaked email and overheard conversation
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 19 November 2019

An email containing legal advice leaked to a claimant in an employment dispute did not fall foul of the iniquity principle and therefore remained privileged. An overheard conversation, believed to be in relation to the claimant's dismissal, could not be relied on to aid the interpretation of the email as there was no evidence that the individuals engaged in the conversation had seen it.

Contribution to legal costs: natural love and affection or calculated self-interest?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 12 November 2019

When will an order for costs be made against a family member who was not a party to the underlying proceedings but who contributed significantly to funding the losing party's defence? According to a recent case, the answer is when the funder has a personal interest in the litigation.

Risky business: the perils of taking over someone else's contract
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 05 November 2019

The High Court recently clarified that merely contracting with another party and thereby giving it the opportunity or means to breach another pre-existing contract is not itself sufficient to constitute inducing breach of contract. More practically, the case is a reminder of the perils of becoming involved as a third party in others' disputes.

Anchor defendants: Court of Appeal confirms that no 'sole object' test applies
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 29 October 2019

The Court of Appeal recently confirmed that Article 6(1) of the Lugano Convention is not subject to a 'sole object' test. Where claimants have a sustainable claim against an 'anchor defendant' that they intend to pursue to judgment, they can rely on Article 6(1) to bring a foreign co-defendant within the jurisdiction. This decision will be of significant assistance to claimants where one or more co-defendants are domiciled in their preferred jurisdiction.

When is opinion evidence admissible?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 22 October 2019

In a recent case involving a man killed on a motorway, the High Court set out the difference between evidence which will be subject to Civil Procedure Rule (CPR) 35's restrictions and that which will not. Specifically, where relevant opinion evidence (even hearsay) is prepared by someone qualified to give expert evidence, it will generally be prima facie admissible. However, where evidence is produced by an expert instructed by the parties for the purposes of the proceedings, it will be subject to CPR 35.

World freezing orders: recent dissipations and reasonable delays
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 15 October 2019

The High Court has held that a delay in applying for a world freezing order was not fatal to its continuation at the return date, as the underlying transactions provided solid evidence of a risk of dissipation and the delay in seeking relief was not material and did not evidence the absence of a genuine belief in that risk. While the court may be reluctant to freeze assets on the basis of historic transactions, the ultimate question is whether solid evidence exists of a risk of dissipation even if the trail goes somewhat cold thereafter.

Tortious claims against third party may trigger anti-suit injunction
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 08 October 2019

A party's attempt to circumvent a jurisdiction clause by bringing tortious claims against a third party has been thwarted by the High Court. In granting an anti-suit injunction, the court explored the substance of the claims and found them to be vexatious and oppressive and designed to evade the exclusive jurisdiction clause. This case demonstrates the courts' willingness to look into the substance of an impugned foreign claim in order to assess whether it is a tactic designed to evade an exclusive jurisdiction clause.

One bad disclosure apple can spoil the whole full and frank barrel
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 01 October 2019

The High Court recently provided a further reminder of the perils of failing to comply with the duty of full and frank disclosure on ex parte applications. This case highlights the onerous burden on applications for worldwide freezing orders to carry out reasonable enquiries to comply with the duty of full and frank disclosure. The court expects applicants to properly investigate the factual basis of their own assertions and that of the likely defence.

Subjective expectation versus objective intention: when will terms be implied into contracts?
RPC
  • United Kingdom
  • 24 September 2019

The High Court recently implied a term into a contract for the sale of government global depositary notes by Lehman Brothers International (Europe) in order to make the contract workable. The decision is of interest because it considers how the courts should address a situation where the subjective expectation of the parties at the time is clear, but the objective intention apparent from their bargain is more difficult to determine, particularly where the objective interpretation may lead to a contract being incapable of being performed.

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