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.
Defender v HSBC highlights the need for plaintiffs to understand the blameworthiness of all wrongdoers before settling a claim against any of them. This case concerned Defender, a fund which invested with Bernard Madoff and subsequently suffered a loss when Madoff was revealed to be operating the world's largest Ponzi scheme.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice recently outlined when specific performance will be available in a real estate transaction. This decision is a stark reminder of the pitfalls of acting both in bad faith and without diligence in respect of such a transaction. It is also a reminder that a party to an agreement of purchase and sale cannot insist that time is of the essence if (among other things) it breaches the agreement and does not act in good faith.
The Senate recently adopted the Bill on Redress of Mass Damages in Collective Actions (RMDCA). The RMDCA enables representative entities to claim monetary compensation on behalf of their constituents, which provides aggrieved parties with more effective means of redress. The RMDCA also introduces stricter requirements regarding the admissibility of representative entities and the scope of collective action proceedings, along with other procedural changes.
A couple of recent first-instance decisions demonstrate the courts' wide discretion to award costs between parties based on a higher rate of recovery (referred to as an 'indemnity basis'). Such costs are not literally an indemnity – the receiving party does not recover all of their costs from the paying party. While indemnity costs are not the norm, many parties and their legal representatives often seek such costs without sufficient regard to whether this is actually justified.
A recent Supreme Court decision concerned a mass tort claim and the potential liability of an English parent company for the actions of its foreign subsidiaries. The court found that a duty of care can exist between a parent company and third parties affected by the actions of its subsidiaries, but was reluctant to place limits on the types of case where a parent company might incur a duty of care.
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.
According to a recent Supreme Court decision, if a claimant applies to have a judgment set aside due to fraud, they need not attempt to uncover that fraud before the judgment, even where it is suspected. The case indicates that fraud should unravel judgments in order to safeguard against injustices. Further, the court has made clear that innocent parties should not be burdened with an obligation to constantly keep their eyes peeled for acts of forgery.
The High Court recently dealt with a professional negligence claim following a retainer by a couple of a chartered engineering firm regarding the construction of their home in 2005. The defendants had brought a strike-out claim for a significant delay in the construction proceedings. On the facts of the case and owing to the fact that the defendant had been a professional person, the case was allowed to proceed on a limited basis.
A Court of Appeal decision appears to have definitively removed any possibility of effectively challenging a transfer of ownership of pledged assets in an enforcement scenario on the basis of fraud, including manifest fraud by the pledgee. This is in contrast to a 2013 Luxembourg District Court decision and the general practice to date, which has been to consider the facts on a case-by-case basis.
A client company recently sued a leading Italian bank, arguing that the interest rate swap contracts concluded between the parties should be declared null and void because, among other things, no master agreement had been executed and the contracts had allegedly been concluded in violation of the bank's general duties of correctness and delay. However, the bank rejected the claims based on the preliminary argument that the limitation period for taking action had already elapsed.
In negligence-based actions, defendants routinely issue third-party claims for contribution and indemnity to reduce their liability exposure. As a result, a plaintiff can commence a claim believing certain defendants to have caused its loss but, after successive third-party claims, learn that several other persons might have contributed to the loss. The Ontario Superior Court recently reviewed the law of discoverability with respect to third parties.
A recent High Court decision confirms that the normal practice for trial of proceedings commenced by writ is for a witness statement to stand as the witness's evidence-in-chief without them having to give such evidence verbally prior to cross-examination. Further, where a person gives a witness statement but is unable to attend the trial, the weight to be attached to that statement (if any) is a matter for the trial judge.
In R v Barra the Ontario Superior Court of Justice convicted two businesspeople on charges of bribing foreign public officials in India. This judgment appears to have crept under the radar, but is notable in the context of the enforcement of the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act because of the court's views on who is a foreign public official and the requirement that the Crown prove that the accused had knowledge of this status.
The Supreme Court recently considered the enforceability of a Californian default judgment which had been served on the defendant at the wrong address. The decision clarifies that in cases involving the enforcement of a foreign judgment, service of the initial complaint through diplomatic or consular agents is required. However, service of the judgment through diplomatic or consular agents is unnecessary.
In a notable decision, the Commercial Section of the Luxembourg District Court clearly defined – for the first time – the concept of minority abuse at shareholders' meetings under Luxembourg law. Further, the court detailed the conditions which must be met in order for conduct to qualify as minority abuse. This decision is of particular interest, as the alternative conditions for determining whether minority abuse has taken place are much broader than those initially set out in Luxembourg law.
In a high-profile acquisition claim, the High Court held that the implied undertaking against collateral use of documents received in the course of litigation prevented disclosure of those documents to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The court's comments show clearly the level of scrutiny which will be given to requests or demands made by third parties for the disclosure of documents obtained through ongoing proceedings, no matter the standing of the person or authority that makes it.
A recent Utrecht District Court decision sends a strong reminder to parties in the transport and logistics industry that they must be precise and clear about what they are agreeing to in dealings with their trading partners. While the less formal requirements for concluding an agreement under Dutch law seem to benefit the transport industry, this decision shows that there are pitfalls to be considered.
The High Court recently dismissed an interim injunction against Viagogo AG, holding that it did not have jurisdiction to consider and determine the application without service on Viagogo. The case clarifies that the courts will not overlook the requirement for service and highlights the difficulty of seeking an interim injunction against companies that are based overseas.
Businesses with experience litigating in Ireland will be familiar with the discovery process and the onerous obligation to disclose all relevant documents which are in their power, possession or procurement. In an age when the volume of electronically stored information continues to increase exponentially, the costs and time involved in complying with discovery orders can often be disproportionate; however, change may be on the horizon.