The Supreme Court recently decided to refer certain important questions regarding the Volkswagen emission manipulation scandal to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for a preliminary ruling under Article 267 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. The Supreme Court's assessment of the case and its decision to refer it to the ECJ have revealed other aspects of the scandal and opened the door for a decision by the ECJ which could alter the course of similar pending cases before national courts in Europe.
The Vienna Regional Court for Civil Matters recently closed the oral hearing in the data protection case brought against Facebook by European privacy group None of Your Business. During the hearing, Facebook's European privacy director faced questions centring on matters of data control regarding the social media platform. The pending decision of the court foreshadows further disputes on Europe's role in setting new standards by which internet activity is to be regulated.
Earlier in 2019, the Supreme Court held that in light of a bilateral treaty, the Austrian courts must apply Iranian law in inheritance matters concerning Iranian nationals. However, provisions of Iranian law that differentiate between heirs on the basis of gender must be treated as violations of the fundamental values of Austrian law and should thus be exempt from application.
There have been a number of recent legislative developments in Austria, including amendments to the Austrian Enforcement Act, which have granted certain parties access to data about pending enforcement proceedings. Further, the Supreme Court has confirmed that the res judicata effect of a foreign judgment applies at all stages of proceedings conducted in Austria.
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.
COVID-19 has forced society to embrace all things technological and forced individuals to adapt to working remotely. As it stands, court operations before the Magistrates Court and the Supreme Court are restricted to essential services until the first working day after the expiry of the Emergency Powers (COVID-19) (No 2) Order 2020, which may be extended by amendments. This article sets out what is permitted according to the judiciary's latest Mitigation Protocols concerning civil and commercial matters.
The Supreme Court recently clarified its jurisdictional limits to assist in trust-related arbitrations, ruling that it has no such jurisdiction to allow service outside an action's jurisdiction. Given this ruling, parties to trust arbitration agreements must be cognisant that, notwithstanding whether their trust deeds provide for the seat of any arbitration to be The Bahamas, the court can provide only limited assistance where the arbitration is not held and the parties or assets are not in The Bahamas.
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).
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
A recent British Columbia Court of Appeal decision is significant because it has removed (for now at least) one of the barriers to the development and construction of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. It has also provided some clarity on the roles that the federal and provincial governments may properly play in the regulation of interprovincial pipelines and, more broadly, in the complex area of environmental regulation.
A Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta judge recently dismissed a case against police officers and the chief of the Edmonton Police Service in its entirety, concluding that the use of force by the defendants did not exceed what was reasonably necessary for the plaintiff's arrest. The case is significant for the court's analysis of forward-looking infrared video evidence, treatment of a prior judicial decision in related criminal proceedings and analysis of the physical force used by police officers to effect an arrest.
Imprecision in identifying the risks of driving influences how insurers assess the value of automobile insurance. A recent Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision reminds insurers and insured persons how difficult it can be to properly assess and categorise risk at the outset of an insurance relationship; however, it offers little guidance on how the modified causation test should be applied in future cases involving projectiles from motor vehicles.
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.
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.