deBriefed News from the Business and Property Group

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In this latest edition of deBriefed Iqbal Mohammed reports on a selection of the recent work of members and noteworthy decisions across our practice areas.

Recent Work

Commercial

Ali Tabari recent concluded a 10-day High Court trial concerning a judgment obtained by fraud. Ali’s client succeeded in a lengthy High Court trial in 2011 and is alleged to have procured that judgment by a combination of forgery, suppression of genuine documents and the reliance on false third-party evidence, thereby triggering the Court’s jurisdiction to set it aside. Judgment is expected to be handed down in mid/late-October.

Gavin McLeod appeared for the defendant on a multi-track debt claim arguing that the sum demanded was a penalty. The claimant accepted an outstanding Part 36 at the door of the trial court, following to the exchange of skeletons. As a result of the claimant’s late acceptance, a favourable costs settlement was secured.

In a potentially world exclusive: Andrew Charman has been working on the 3rd edition of Shareholder Actions and it will be published by Bloomsbury Professional in January 2022.

Insolvency

James Morgan QC recently appeared on an appeal before Mr Justice Trower in the case of Bucknall v Wilson [2021] EWHC 2149 (Ch). It is an important decision concerning, amongst other things, the availability of ‘change of position’ as a defence to TUV, preference and s.423 claims and the proper scope of the operation of the ex parte James principle when bringing such claims.

Iqbal Mohammed was instructed to defend 5 urgent applications listed in two hearings in the space of two weeks, brought by the holder of an option to purchase shares in a law firm. The director of the firm intended to place the firm into Administration and the applicant sought injunctions restraining the director from exercising her legal powers and statutory duties. HHJ Rawlings refused the applications and the firm entered Administration a week later.

Rob Mundy has written about Directors’ duties during Administration and Liquidation in last month’s issue of Insolvency Intelligence.

Property

John Aldis successfully defended a proprietary estoppel claim in circumstances where a developer paid for demolition and decontamination work on the vendor’s land during abortive negotiations to purchase the barn before a contract of sale was signed. It was held that there was no proprietary estoppel because the work was also a pre-condition for the development of another barn owned by the developer. Moreover, the vendor had instructed the developer to stop any other works to the barn until contracts were signed.

In a positive experience of the Shorter and Flexible Trial Scheme in Birmingham, in a dispute about the terms on which land was bought and to be divided, Anthony Verduyn went from initial directions to a successful 3 day High Court trial in 3 months.

Notable Decisions

Commercial

Pakistan International Airline Corp v Times Travel (UK) Ltd [2021] UKSC 40, a UKSC decision on the elements of economic duress, particularly whether a threat made was illegitimate or simply tough bargaining.

Property

Manchester Building Society v Grant Thornton UK LLP [2021] UKSC 20, the UKSC considered the scope of a professional’s duty of care and found that the scope of the duty was governed by the purpose of the duty; judged on an objective basis by reference to the purpose for which the advice was given.

Mars Capital Finance Ltd v Hussain [2021] EWHC 2416 (Ch), a decision on the many challenges made against the transfer of mortgages from the collapsed Laiki Bank to another Cypriot bank through measures taken by the Cypriot central bank in 2013, which affected many Cypriot borrowers in England.

Dixon Coles & Gill v Baines, Bishop of Leeds & Anor [2021] EWCA Civ 1097, the Court of Appeal considered whether innocent partners liable for fraud, under the Partnership Act 1890, could rely on the defence of limitation under s. 21(1)(a) of the Limitation Act 1980. The Court of Appeal reversed the High Court and held that while the Partnership Act makes innocent partners liable, it does not deem them ‘party or privy’ to the fraud, to prevent reliance on limitation.

Property

London Trocadero (2015) LLP v Picturehouse Cinemas Ltd [2021] EWHC 2591 (Ch), an interesting decision granting summary judgment on a defence to non-payment of rent and service charges where a property was closed under the national lockdown.  Essentially, the judge held that it was not appropriate to imply terms into the leases to suspend payment during any period for which use of the premises as a cinema was illegal.

Royal Parks Ltd v Bluebird Boats Ltd [2021] EWHC 2278 (TCC), a decision on the classic question, is it a fixture or a fitting? The judge held that a boathouse assembled on the Serpentine Lake in Hyde Park was a fixture; giving a helpful decision on the annexation test in a commercial context.

Insolvency

Re Bedzhamov [2021] EWHC 2281 (Ch), an interesting cross-border insolvency case where Snowden J made an order recognising the appointment of a trustee in bankruptcy in Russia, automatically treating the bankrupt’s moveable property in England as vested in the trustee. However, having reviewed the authorities, he held that there was no general power in the court at common law to make an order vesting the bankrupt’s immoveable property in England in the trustee, or conferring possession and control of such property on the trustee.

Procedure & Costs

JR & B Farming Limited v Hewitt [2021] EWHC 1704 (Comm) looks at live transcription of court proceedings and the procedure which should be followed to avoid contempt (this follows the decision last year in Gubarev v Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd).

Farrar & Anor v Miller [2021] EWHC 1950, Marcus Smith J held that an assignment of a claim by a client before his death to his then lawyers was champertous and void.

Breakfast Webinar: The end of temporary insolvency measures related to coronavirus, 0930 14th October. Find out more and register here >>>

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to thank all our clients for their continued support and look forward to seeing you in chambers very soon.