The Court of Appeal’s hotly anticipated decision in James Churchill v. Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council has been handed down. It holds that courts have the power to stay proceedings for, or order, parties to engage in a non-court-based dispute resolution process.
The Ministry of Justice has published the UK government’s response to the consultation on joining the Hague Convention of 2 July 2019 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Judgments in Civil or Commercial Matters, concluding that it is the right time for the UK to join the convention.
The UK government introduced the Arbitration Bill into UK Parliament on 21 November 2023, and it has already had its first reading. The bill incorporates all of the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform of the English Arbitration Act 1996 (see our October 2023 blog post summarising the main recommendations).
A fundamental issue that all litigants will be well served to consider when bringing, or defending, any legal proceeding is the question of whether the claim has been brought in time. The inadvertent failure to bring a claim in time has served to fatally undermine several disputes that otherwise may have been successful.
The Limitation Act 1980 sets out the relevant time limits (known as ‘limitation periods’) in which different kinds of legal claims must be brought – and the time from which those limitation periods begin to run. Many aspects of the act are uncontroversial, but there was some lingering uncertainty concerning the interpretation of Section 32, which extends the normally applicable limitation periods in circumstances where facts relevant to the claimant’s cause of action have been deliberately concealed by the defendant.
In the first case to address the ramifications of the UK Supreme Court’s decision in R (on the application of PACCAR Inc and others) v. Competition Appeal Tribunal and others, the English Commercial Court granted an asset preservation/freezing order in favour of a litigation funder. In Therium Litigation Funding A IC v. Bugsby Property LLC, the court considered that there was a serious issue to be tried, and that the PACCAR decision did not render the whole of the litigation funding agreement unenforceable.
In Eternity Sky Investments Ltd v. Zhang, the Commercial Court refused an application to set aside an enforcement order in respect of an award made in a Hong Kong-seated arbitration on the grounds that enforcement would be contrary to English public policy – specifically, consumer protections enshrined in the Consumer Rights Act 2015. In reaching its conclusion, the Commercial Court held that the Consumer Rights Act did not apply, as although the applicant was a consumer and lived in the UK, the transaction was much more closely connected with Hong Kong. The Commercial Court also expressed the view (obiter) that inclusion of an arbitration clause in a contract with a consumer does not automatically entail that the clause will be deemed unfair and thus unenforceable.
The long-running investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (ENRC) has provided several points of instructive guidance during its lifetime – and that trend looks set to continue. The most recent matter before the High Court examined certain redactions the SFO made to a report it disclosed in the course of proceedings which were challenged by ENRC.
In a landmark day for regulatory authorities in the United Kingdom, the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Act came into force on 26 October 2023. The act will have a material impact on the manner in which the authorities combat money laundering, fraud and other economic crimes within the jurisdiction. Large companies doing business in the UK should be on notice that they will have to ensure that their compliance procedures are robust enough to withstand what is expected to be a renewed vigour from the authorities to hold large companies to account for the criminal actions of their employees, agents and subsidiaries.
On 10 October 2023, the England and Wales Court of Appeal handed down its decision in Delo, R. (On the Application Of) v. The Information Commissioner , in which it upheld an earlier High Court ruling that the UK’s data protection regulator, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), is not obliged to reach a definitive decision on the merits of each and every data subject access request (DSAR) complaint, but that it – instead – has broad discretion, which it found the ICO had exercised lawfully under the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) when responding to a DSAR complaint.
The UK Supreme Court’s recent judgment in Republic of Mozambique v. Privinvest Shipbuilding SAL and others, provides an extremely valuable analysis of the proper basis for staying legal proceedings in favour of arbitration under section 9 of the Arbitration Act 1996.