Litigation updates

Austria

Contributed by OBLIN Attorneys at Law
Surprise decision regarding changing case law
  • Austria
  • 17 July 2018

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.

Supreme Court's stance on applicability of agreements conferring jurisdiction
  • Austria
  • 03 April 2018

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.

Supreme Court rules on non-bank loans
  • Austria
  • 23 January 2018

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.

Disclosure of accounts pursuant to Article XLII of Code of Civil Procedure
  • Austria
  • 18 July 2017

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.

Supreme Court rules on international jurisdiction in copyright infringement cases
  • Austria
  • 30 May 2017

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.


Bahamas

Supreme Court evaluates scope of trustees' protection in contentious trust litigation
Lennox Paton
  • Bahamas
  • 07 August 2018

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).


Brazil

Declaration of Economic Freedom – impact on new and existing litigation
  • Brazil
  • 21 May 2019

The Declaration of Economic Freedom was recently instituted by Presidential Provisional Measure 881/2019. Designed to curtail the state's undue interference in economic activities performed by individuals and companies, the law (which is subject to confirmation by Congress) is also expected to affect new and existing litigation, including the Civil Code. On its face, the Civil Code modification seems positive. However, it is unclear how the courts will react to these novelties.

Brazil adheres to Hague Service Convention
  • Brazil
  • 30 April 2019

Serving companies and individuals in Brazil in connection with suits abroad has just become easier, as Brazil has formally adhered to the 1965 Hague Convention on the Service Abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil or Commercial Matters. The convention should expedite both the summons of Brazilian parties involved in foreign proceedings and the service of parties abroad in connection with Brazilian litigation.

Price of litigating in Brazil: court-awarded attorneys' fees
  • Brazil
  • 23 April 2019

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.

Can you choose a foreign forum to decide your dispute? Yes, but…
  • Brazil
  • 16 April 2019

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.

Brazilian legal system: civil law sprinkled with common law elements
  • Brazil
  • 17 July 2018

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.


British Virgin Islands

Taking charge: Commercial Court delivers judgment on its jurisdiction to grant charging orders
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 11 June 2019

The Commercial Court recently confirmed that the BVI courts have jurisdiction to grant charging orders. Charging orders are a critically important tool, particularly when enforcing foreign judgments, as they allow creditors to take a proprietary interest over assets owned by a debtor and can ultimately facilitate the sale of such assets to allow the creditor to realise their debt.

Scope of disclosure orders and contempt of court
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 04 June 2019

A BVI court recently considered a contempt application seeking further disclosure by way of an 'unless' order and whether cross-examination of the respondents should be ordered to determine the issue of contempt. The decision highlights the exceptional nature of cross-examination orders and the high standard of proof required for contempt orders.

Reverse engineering: Court of Appeal in rare reversal of findings of fact
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 04 December 2018

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.

Think before you blink: court halts cross-border requests without consideration
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 23 October 2018

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.

Stanford v Akers: asking a BVI court to reverse a liquidator's decision
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 09 October 2018

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.


Canada

Contributed by Dentons
Section B benefits require compliance with independent medical examination protocol
  • Canada
  • 18 June 2019

Can an insurer deny all Section B benefits if an insured agrees to attend an independent medical examination on conditions that conflict with the examining medical practitioner's protocol? The Alberta Court of Queen's Bench recently considered this question and answered in the affirmative. While the decision was specific to Section B claims, the broader takeaway is equally instructive: relying on the clear terms of a policy does not necessarily impugn the duty of utmost good faith.

Ontario Court of Appeal clarifies overlapping policies containing "other insurance clauses"
  • Canada
  • 11 June 2019

The Ontario Court of Appeal has clarified its application of the Supreme Court's decision in Family Insurance Corp v Lombard Canada Ltd in instances of overlapping insurance policies with "other insurance clauses" covering the same loss. The court determined that the analysis in instances of overlapping coverage comes down to whether there was overlapping coverage and whether the insurers intended to limit their obligation to contribute, and by what method and in what circumstances, in relation to the insured.

Propping up insurable interests
  • Canada
  • 04 June 2019

A plaintiff recently claimed indemnification under a residential insurance policy when unknown persons broke into her garage and stole items, including prop guns. Although the court found that the plaintiff had an insurable interest in the prop guns, it found that she was not entitled to be indemnified for their loss because they belonged to another individual who had not been a roomer or boarder.

Alberta Court of Appeal confirms directors are personally liable for injuries sustained at work
  • Canada
  • 28 May 2019

The Alberta Court of Appeal has revisited the question of directors' personal liability for injuries sustained in a workplace incident. The key question was whether a corporate representative was personally liable for damage resulting from their own tortious conduct while acting as a representative for the corporation. As the applicable tests for determining personal liability remain unclear, this will continue to be a difficult issue for directors to navigate.

Jurisdictional challenges to arbitral awards: raise them before they're gone
  • Canada
  • 21 May 2019

The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently provided a comprehensive judicial review of a jurisdictional challenge to an arbitral award. This decision will be of interest not only to car manufacturers, but also to most parties subject to an arbitration agreement. However, the broader takeaway from this case is that non-compliance with the Arbitration Act is not a ground for review. Therefore, jurisdictional challenges must be brought at the beginning of hearings.