Landlord and tenant – Notice to quit. The claimant Secretary of State for Defence's appeal and the defendant landowners' cross-appeal failed, in a dispute concerning the validity of a notice to quit and the possibility of an equitable set-off. The Chancery Division held that the first defendant could rely upon equitable set-off of unliquidated claims for damages in order to invalidate the notice to pay, because it overstated the rent due, and so to invalidate the notice to quit. Further, the Recorder had been right to hold that the tenant could rely upon equitable set-off for unliquidated damages to invalidate the notice to pay (and therefore the notice to quit), subject to certain limiting criteria.
Insolvency – Approval for sale. Where a prior order, (not complied with), was in place over assets sought to be sold by a receiver to third party, it was correct for the receivers to seek approval form the court for the sale. Further, the Chancery Division held that in certain limited circumstances the court had discretion to vary its own order, and in the present situation it would vary its own order, and approve the sale to the third party unencumbered by the earlier order.
Practice – Vulnerable adult. In considering three applications for permission to apply for the appointment of personal welfare deputies (PWD) in respect of vulnerable adults, pursuant to s 16 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the Court of Protection clarified the practice, procedure, and the applicable principles, concerning such appointments.
Will – Validity. The Chancery Division made rulings relating to a dispute over two wills made by FB. On the evidence, the presumption of due execution had been successfully displaced and FB's will of 2013 had not been executed in accordance with the law. Further, FB had known of and approved the contents of her 2013 will. She had revoked her will of 2012 by asking for it to be revoked.
Limitation of action – Period of limitation. In a group (personal injury) action brought against Tata Steel Ltd (Tata), the claimants alleged that some of those employed by Tata's predecessors had been exposed to dust and fumes at work, resulting in them developing occupational diseases. Tata contended that some of the claims were statute-barred and applied to have limitation tried as a preliminary issue. The Queen's Bench Division, in dismissing the application, held that the overriding objective in the group litigation order would not be best served by determining limitation defences by way of the hearing of any preliminary issue or issues.
Social security – Housing benefit. In holding that the correct interpretation of 'bedroom' for the purposes of reg B13(5) of the Housing Benefit (Amendment) Regulations 2012 was a room capable of being used as a bedroom by a particular claimant, the upper tribunal had erred in law and its decision had been wrong. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that, for the purposes of reg B13(5), 'bedroom' was to be interpreted as meaning a room capable of being used as a bedroom by any of the listed categories and not a room capable of being used as a bedroom by the particular claimant.
Company – Shares. The appellant company's action to strike out the name of the respondent company as the holder of all of a related company's issued shares succeeded. The Privy Council held that one of the appellant's representatives, who had purported to sign an agreement between the parties (the HOA), had lacked the ostensible authority to do so. Further, the HOA and the share transfer purportedly made pursuant to it had been avoidable.
Family Proceedings – Care proceedings. The Slovakian Central Authority's request to transfer care proceedings, concerning three Slovakian children, to the Slovakia courts was refused. The Family Court considered the principles applicable to such applications for a transfer of proceedings under art 15 of Regulation (EC) No 2201/2203 and held that, applying settled law to the facts, the balance was firmly in favour of the case remaining in England and Wales at the present time.
Immigration – Leave to enter. The First-tier Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber)'s reasons why it had held that the appellant Sri Lankan national's refusal of entry clearance had been a disproportionate interference with respect for family life were tolerably clear and had contained no error of law. The Court of Appeal (Civil Division), allowing the appellant's appeal, held that there had been no error in the FTT's decision and the Upper Tribunal (Immigration and Asylum Chamber) had erred in interfering with the decision.
Practice – Procedure. For applications such as those under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 and other applications which were heard in the Family Division, but were subject to the CPR, the parties should comply with FPR PD 27A in the preparation of bundles for hearings taking place in the High Court. The Family Division so ruled in the course of an application under I(PFD) 1975, in circumstances where the claimant's solicitors had lodged a bundle of documents which did not contain a case summary, a chronology, a list of issues or a list of essential reading.
Probate – Grant. The Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court had correctly decided that the marriage contract relating to the testator's second marriage had not prevented the testator from bequeathing his property by testamentary disposition. The Privy Council so held, among other things, in dismissing the appellant daughter's appeal against the Court of Appeal's decision. The Board considered the relevant provisions of the superseded Civil Code of St Lucia of 1879, relating to dower and the effect of a contract of marriage on the ability of a husband to dispose of property by testamentary disposition.
Unfair dismissal – Remedies. When ss 115 and 117 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 were read together, an 'order for re-engagement' was not intended to impose an absolute and indefeasible obligation on the employer to re-engage the employee or a correlative right in the employee to be re-engaged. Rather, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held it created a situation in which the employer had to either re-engage the employee or become liable for the awards specified by s 117 (3), which included an additional award on top of what it would have had to pay if no re-engagement order had been made.
Pleading – Amendment. The applicants' application to amend their claim failed. The Chancery Division held that, on any analysis, the claim being presently pleaded was a new claim. Further, the court had no discretion to allow the amendments, because the conditions of s 35 of the Limitation Act 1980 and CPR 17.4(2) were not met. The new claims did not arise out of substantially the same facts as were already in issue.
Family proceedings – Orders in family proceedings. Having carefully weighed two competing placement options, concerning a child (A), who was the subject of an interim care order, it was held that his welfare required that he remained in the care of his mother, who had previously had mental health issues, but where she did not have a clinically diagnosed disorder and was meeting A's needs to a good standard. The Family Court held that the risks of placement with her were sufficiently ameliorated by being managed under the proposed 12-month supervision order and with compliance with a written agreement. Accordingly, the court granted a 12-month supervision order in the favour of the applicant authority. Further, A's father was granted parental responsibility and the court endorsed a final care plan, as amended, in respect of contact.
Statute – Interpretation. For the purpose of s 177 of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 2000, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) could say that it was 'the person imposing the requirement' when the requirement had been imposed by an investigator acting 'on its behalf'. In so deciding, the Chancery Division, ruled that the respondent company had to pay the costs of the FCA.
Transport – Licence. A Senior Traffic Controller decided that a bus company and its managing director had lost their good repute and should be disqualified from holding a vehicle operator's licence. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that the Upper Tribunal (Administrative Appeals Chamber), in dismissing the appeal against that decision, had been correct to take into account a video, commissioned by the company's managing director and uploaded onto YouTube, which showed the Senior Traffic Controller driving her car in a private capacity together with captions accusing her of hypocrisy.
Immigration – Identity. The claimant, who came to the UK from Bangladesh, had produced sufficient evidence to prove that he had been born after his father had been registered in 1974 as a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies. The Queen's Bench Division, Administrative Court, accordingly held that he was thus entitled to British citizenship.
Employment – Disability. The appellant Constabulary declined the respondent police officer's application to transfer to it on the basis that she suffered from an unacceptable level of hearing loss. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that the Employment Tribunal had been correct to find that that decision had amounted to discrimination on the basis of a perceived disability.
Property – Resulting trust. A judge had not erred in holding, among other things, that the respondent held a 100% beneficial interest in a residential property in Luton (the property), the legal title to which was held by the appellant. The respondent had successfully contended before the judge that it had been agreed between the parties that the appellant would secure the mortgage to purchase the property on the respondent's behalf, and that the latter would pay the deposit and meet the monthly mortgage payments. The respondent had made payments towards the mortgage and he had resided in the property with his family since its purchase. The Queen's Bench Division, in dismissing the appellant's appeal, held that there was no basis on which the judge's primary findings of fact could be disturbed, and that he had clearly found that there was a resulting trust, notwithstanding he had not used that term, and that the agreement was that the entire beneficial interest was to be respondent's. The court further held that the appellant's agreement to incur the liability of the mortgage was not sufficient, in itself, to confer on him any beneficial interest in the property.
Disclosure – Disclosure of documents. The claimants' case against the defendant private investigators succeeded, in an action concerning the disclosure of information. The Commercial Court held that, among other things, the defendants had breached their obligations of confidentiality in making disclosures to an investigative journalist and to a firm of Cypriot lawyers, and the disclosures had not been in the public interest.