Medical practitioner – Clinical negligence. A clinical negligence claim, arising from the birth of the claimant at the defendant NHS trust's hospital (the hospital), was dismissed. The claimant had cerebral palsy and it was alleged, on his behalf, that he had sustained hypoxic-ischaemic brain injury as a result of midwifery negligence when his mother had attended at the hospital's maternity assessment unit. The Queen's Bench Division held that the claimant had failed to establish any actionable breach of duty in circumstances where, on the balance of probabilities, all the necessary checks of maternal and fetal well-being had been completed within the period of the assessment that the midwife had carried out.
Company – Fraudulent trading. When the respondent company, which had acquired the choses in action and property rights of VTL, from its liquidators, was given priority over the appellant Crown Prosecution Service in a proprietary claim to the funds, the CPS appealed. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, in dismissing the appeal held that the constructive trust in favour of the VTL was not rendered unenforceable by the ex turpi causa rule or some other available principle of illegality or public policy.
Environmental law – Statutory nuisance – Wind farm – Noise. Sheriff Court: In a summary application in which the pursuers alleged statutory nuisance caused by noise emanating from three wind turbines operated by the defender on land in the vicinity of their home, the court held that the combined effect of the volume and character of the turbine noise which the pursuers had experienced, according to their evidence, was something no reasonable person ought to be expected to tolerate: it was a nuisance at common law and was therefore a statutory nuisance in terms of s 79(1)(g) of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
Civil procedure – Apparent bias – Right to fair hearing. Sheriff Appeal Court: Refusing an appeal by an appellant who sought reparation for loss, injury and damage he maintained he had suffered as a result of a minor road traffic accident, and who contended that the sheriff had displayed apparent bias, having adjourned the court during the proof and made certain comments to parties' representatives in chambers which the appellant alleged were demonstrative of the sheriff having prematurely formed a concluded view hostile towards him, the sheriff having ultimately assoilzied the defender, the court held that the sheriff's comments would not reasonably be understood by the fair-minded and informed observer as meaning that he had already formed a concluded view hostile to the appellant on matters which fell for decision at the conclusion of the case after hearing all the evidence and arguments: he would not conclude that there was a real possibility that the sheriff was biased.
Income tax – Return. The proceedings concerned the correct treatment, for income tax purposes, of the respondent taxpayer's claim for share loss relief under s 132 of the Income Tax Act 2007 (s 132). The taxpayer had sold his shares in a company, realising a capital loss of £414,50. In his return for 2009/10, he had claimed share loss relief for that amount against his income for that year, under s 132. Further, the taxpayer's return for 2010/11 had stated that relief for the share loss had been obtained in the 2009/10. The appellant, the Revenue and Customs Commissioners (HMRC) opened an enquiry into the return for 2009/10 and, later, for that of 2010/11. Subsequently, it issued a demand. In dismissing HMRC's appeal against a decision by the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, in favour of the taxpayer in respect of one of two issues in contention, the Supreme Court held that the share loss relief which the taxpayer had claimed had been correctly deducted from his net income in 2009/10. The court, in so ruling, endorsed the guidance given by the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber) in Eclipse Film Partners (No. 35) LLP v Revenue and Customs Commissioners STC 1114.
European Union – Public procurement. The European Parliament had been entitled to exclude the applicant company from being awarded a contract and, consequently, to reject the tenders from two consortia on the basis of their failure to comply with their obligation under art 107(1)(b) of Regulation (EU) No 966/2012 to provide the Parliament with information on factors capable of creating a situation that could give rise to a conflict of interests for the applicant. Consequently, the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed the applicant's action for annulment of the Parliament's decision to reject the bids made by those two consortia, each of which had included the applicant company.
Value added tax – Overpayment of tax. The four conjoined appeals concerned the entitlement of members of VAT groups, formed pursuant to UK legislation implementing art 11 of Directive (EC) 2006/112, to a refund of unlawfully collected VAT, in circumstances in which they had left their respective VAT group at the time when the claim for a refund had been made. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held, among other things, that neither the wording of art 11 nor the jurisprudence of the Court of Justice of the European Union precluded the model of VAT grouping adopted by the UK in ss 43 and 44 of the Value Added Tax Act 1994. Accordingly, the court dismissed the appellant companies' appeals, against the decisions of the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber), that had held that the Revenue and Customs Commissioners had correctly interpreted UK domestic law in deciding that the appellants had not taken their right to a refund with them when they had left the VAT group.
Land – Telecommunications. The proceedings arose from the respondent landowners refusal to grant the claimant company the rights it sought under Sch 3A to the Communications Act 2003 (the Electronic Communications Code). The Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) found in favour of the claimant on various preliminary issues, including that it was incorrect to suggest that the claimant's statement of case sought rights that were different from those sought in its notice given pursuant to para 20 of the Electronic Communications Code.
Practice – Pre-trial or post-judgment relief. The appellant companies' challenge to a finding that the English and Welsh court had jurisdiction to try the claim against them failed. The proceedings concerned alleged toxic emissions from a copper Mine in Zambia, and the claimants were a number of Zambian citizens. The Supreme Court held that the English court had jurisdiction to try the claims.
Negligence – Clinical negligence. In dismissing an appeal against a judges' findings regarding consent in a clinical negligence case, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held, that, in considering the issue of causation around informed consent for psychiatric injury, the judge had not made a material error of law in applying the test of 'rationality'. Further he had been correct in his assessment having regard to the medical evidence.
Sale of land – Repurchase option. The proceedings concerned a repurchase option under a contract to develop a building plot in the Cayman Islands (the property), which the appellants had purchased from the respondent company (VDM). Under the agreement for sale, the appellants had agreed with VDM that, if they defaulted in performing their obligations regarding the construction of a residence, VDM would have the right to call for the sale to it of the property. The agreement for sale was, subsequently, varied. Construction was delayed and VDM gave notice to exercise the option on two occasions. The court at first instance allowed VDM's claim for specific performance. The Court of Appeal dismissed appellants' appeal. The Privy Council, in dismissing the appellants' further appeal, held that VDM's first notice had been validly given in view of the judge's findings and those of the Court of Appeal. Among other things, the court held that there was no finding to substantiate an argument that the contract of sale, to which exercise of the option by the first notice had given rise, had then been abandoned or that the right to enforce it had been waived.
Money – Loan. The appellant company's appeal against findings of a judge in a dispute concerning a loan agreement was dismissed. The Chancery Division held that it was not possible to say that the variations to the loan that the judge had ordered had gone beyond how a judge could reasonably have exercised the broad discretion given to him. In the circumstances, the judge's variations had not been unreasonable and had been within the scope of his discretion.
Contract – Breach of contract. The appellant succeeded on his appeal against a district judge's order, which effectively upheld a claim by the appellant's former employer (a matchmaking company) that he had breached his contractual obligations of confidence by assisting the company's former client to bring a claim (the claim) against the company, alleging misrepresentation. The Queen's Bench Division held that the district judge had failed to make sufficient findings of fact to support his decision on causation, in circumstances where his judgement suggested that he had considered that the confidential information had been provided after the commencement of the claim.
Criminal evidence and procedure – Admissibility of evidence – CCTV footage – Examination of witnesses. Sheriff Appeal Court: Allowing a Crown appeal in the case of a respondent who was acquitted at trial of charges of driving whilst disqualified/without insurance after the sheriff upheld a defence submission of no case to answer, which followed a successful defence objection to certain evidence being adduced by the Crown, the court held that the sheriff was not entitled to uphold a defence objection to a police officer being asked questions about CCTV footage, and nor was she entitled to refuse the Crown's motion to interrupt the police officer's evidence to lead evidence from a witness in order to establish the provenance of the CCTV footage: the court therefore quashed the acquittal and permitted the Crown to bring a fresh prosecution.
Teaching – Professional competence – Unfitness to teach. Court of Session: Allowing an appeal by a teacher against a decision of the respondents' Fitness To Teach Panel, which found that allegations made against her had been proved, that she was 'unfit to teach' and directed that her name be removed from the register of teachers, the court was satisfied that there was no evidence before the Panel to justify the conclusion that at the time she made unfounded accusations against fellow members of staff the appellant did so maliciously; it was clear that the Panel's assessment of whether the appellant was unfit to teach was affected by its conclusion that in that respect she had acted maliciously and for that reason the Panel's decision on unfitness to teach could not stand.
Landlord and tenant – Abatement notice – Specific implement. Sheriff Appeal Court: Refusing an appeal in an action in which the pursuer, the landlord of premises occupied as tenant by the defender, and used by him as a takeaway restaurant, sought, inter alia, declarator that the defender was obliged in terms of the lease to carry out, at his expense, works required by an abatement notice which the local authority had served on the pursuer in respect of statutory nuisance caused by noise from the premises, the court rejected the defender's contention that the sheriff had erred in allowing proof because the pursuer's first two craves did not specify with the required precision what works he must carry out and were therefore irrelevant and/or lacking in specification—there was sufficient specification to allow the matter to proceed to proof; nor had the sheriff erred in dismissing the counterclaim as it was clear that there was no binding agreement reached in an exchange of letters.
Civil procedure – Mental health – Protection of privacy – Anonymisation of parties' names in civil court proceedings. Court of Session: In proceedings by an appellant who was compulsorily detained under mental health legislation, challenging the Sheriff Principal's refusal of her appeal against a determination of the convenor of Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland, in which the appellant enrolled a motion to anonymise her details to initials 'MH' and to design her care of her solicitors in order to protect her privacy, the court held that there would require to be quite exceptional circumstances before the court would permit a litigation to proceed with an instance containing initials or a pseudonym; as matters stood there was insufficient material to justify anonymising the appellant's name in the proceedings, and it therefore refused the application for an anonymity order.
Divorce – Financial provision. On the facts of the case, it would be wholly unfair to hold the husband to the pre-nuptial agreement made under the laws of the State of New York, which he had signed 15 days prior to his marriage to the wife, a wealthy American heiress to the Avon Products business empire. Accordingly, the Family Court held that no weight would be attributed to the agreement. Deciding the husband's financial remedy claim solely by reference to the principle of needs, the court awarded the husband a lump sum of £1,333,500, of which £375,000 would be subject to a charge-back.
Divorce – Foreign divorce. After the husband had obtained a divorce in Oman, the wife applied in England for financial relief of about £56.75m overall, under the Matrimonial and Family Proceedings Act 1984. The Family Division, having considered the needs of the wife and the parties' children, ordered the husband, who was a wealthy heir of a former prominent politician in Oman, to pay the wife the total sum of £24,075,000 for herself and the children.
Family proceedings – Evidence. In a Family case seeking to identity a perpetrator, in circumstances where children had suffered significant harm as a result of alleged ill-treatment, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, provided some guidance as to the correct approach to the identification of a perpetrator as a result of alleged ill-treatment from a pool of perpetrators. It also allowed the father's appeal due to the lack of proper analysis of the evidence.