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
  • 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

Contributed by TozziniFreire Advogados
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

Revisiting costs awards – BVI Court of Appeal varies costs order based on US appeal decision
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 18 September 2018

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.

Singapore and BVI courts cooperate against cross-border fraud
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 14 August 2018

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.

Court of Appeal reaffirms that it will rarely reverse findings of fact
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 07 August 2018

The BVI Court of Appeal recently dismissed an appeal against the liquidators of BVI company Pioneer Freight Futures Company Limited and reaffirmed the established law regarding reversing findings of fact. The court held that it will intervene only in rare cases, such as when there is no evidence to support the conclusion, the conclusion was based on a misunderstanding of the evidence or the conclusion was one that no reasonable judge could have reached.

Trusts and disclosure: a recent lesson
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 31 July 2018

A recent BVI decision highlights the need for trustees to think carefully and, if in doubt, take advice before refusing an information request from a beneficiary. The consequences of getting this wrong (not least in potential personal cost exposure for the trustee) can be severe.

Freezing injunction: what is a good arguable case?
  • British Virgin Islands
  • 26 June 2018

The BVI Commercial Court has provided helpful guidance as to the threshold for a good arguable case, dismissing an application to discharge a worldwide freezing injunction obtained by a claimant. The court held that where there is a good arguable case that a defendant has acted fraudulently or dishonestly, or with "unacceptable low standards of morality giving rise to a feeling of uneasiness about the defendant", further evidence is often unnecessary to justify a freezing injunction.


Canada

Contributed by Dentons
Alberta Court of Appeal clarifies what the Crown must prove in a general duty offence
  • Canada
  • 25 September 2018

The Alberta Court of Appeal recently provided clarity on what the Crown must prove in a prosecution under the Alberta Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding the failure to ensure the health and safety of workers. The key question before the court was whether the expression "as far as is reasonably practicable for the employer to do so" in the general duty section of the act was part of the physical components of the offence that the Crown had to prove.

Court finds lawyer's communications and conduct during harassment investigation were not privileged
  • Canada
  • 18 September 2018

An Ontario court has permitted an employee to refer in her statement of claim for constructive dismissal and bad faith to the communications and conduct of the company's lawyer in respect of a sexual harassment investigation. The court held that the discussions and conduct of the lawyer with respect to the investigation did not relate to a litigious dispute, but rather to the company's statutory obligation to investigate claims of sexual harassment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Owner of electrical contracting firm held personally liable for its C$430,000 regulatory fine
  • Canada
  • 11 September 2018

In what appears to be a novel regulatory decision, the Ontario Court of Justice recently held the owner of an electrical contracting firm personally liable for its regulatory fines after he transferred assets out of the company following a fatal incident. In a rather scathing decision, the judge held that the owner had put his own assets at risk by blurring the lines between himself and the company.

Class action claiming gender harassment dismissed as only arbitrator had jurisdiction
  • Canada
  • 04 September 2018

A group of female police officers has lost its bid to bring a class action in the courts for gender discrimination and harassment. The officers had claimed systemic gender-based discrimination and harassment by male members of the police force. However, the court held that it had no jurisdiction over the class action because the claims should have been brought at arbitration.

Safety manager wins wrongful dismissal suit having not failed to complete assigned tasks
  • Canada
  • 28 August 2018

An Alberta safety manager recently won C$28,000 in damages after he was fired by his employer. The employer argued that the employee had quit or, in the alternative, that there was just cause for dismissal. The court held that the employee, who had three-and-a-half years of service and an annual salary of C$82,000, was entitled to four months' pay in lieu of notice.