Employment – Unfair dismissal. The appellant nurse was dismissed for gross misconduct by the respondent NHS trust for initiating inappropriate discussions on matters of religion with patients. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissing her appeal, held that the Employment Tribunal had been correct to dismiss her claim for unfair dismissal.
Patent – Validity. The claimant company's claim for infringement of two patents succeeded in part. The proceedings concerned two patents related to technologies commonly used to provide fixed line broadband internet to residential and commercial premises. The Patents Court held that the first patent was valid and infringed, but that the second patent was obvious in the light of the prior art.
Trust and trustee – Appeals on fact. Following the sale of a Gauguin painting to the Emir of Qatar, an art dealer claimed $10m in commission from the trustees of the trust that had sold the painting. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, upholding the judge's decision that the trustees were liable to pay the commission, held that the art dealer's failure to alert the trustees that an offer higher than the final sale offer had been made earlier in negotiations did not mean that he had been guilty of a breach of fiduciary duty.
Capital gains tax – Tax avoidance scheme. Parliament's intention had been that each security converted into a qualifying corporate bonds (QCBs) should be viewed as a separate conversion, which amounted regarding the conversion in the present case as consisting of two conversions, one of QCBs and one of non-QCBs. Accordingly, the Supreme Court, in dismissing the appellant taxpayers' appeal, rejected their contention that the redemption of loan notes fell outside the charge to capital gains tax by virtue of the exemption in s 115 of the Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992 for disposals of QCBs on the basis that there had been a single conversion.
Mental Health – Vulnerable persons. Practitioners, carers and those involved in taking samples from vulnerable persons in such circumstances should be reminded that, where the patient lacked capacity and an application had been made to the Court of Protection for an order authorising the taking of a sample, it would be unlawful for the sample to be taken without the court's permission. Any infringement, in future, would run the risk, not only of attracting severe criticism from the court, but also potentially incurring liability for damages if a breach of human rights were to be established. However, on the particular facts of the present case, the Court of Protection retrospectively authorised the taking of a DNA sample from a vulnerable man (N), who was in the late stages of a degenerative neurological condition, in circumstances where the application, seeking authorisation, had been before the court, where the sample had been taken in the context of an earlier order by another Family Court judge, and where no injustice or harm had been caused to N.
Immigration – Trafficking. The court had jurisdiction to grant general interim relief in respect of persons other than the individual claimants who were not claimants before it. The Administrative Court further held that there was a serious issue to be tried in the claimants' judicial review proceedings challenging the defendant Secretary of State's policy of ending support 45 days after a conclusive determination that a person was a victim of modern slavery/people trafficking and the balance of convenience came down in favour of granting the general relief sought.
Criminal law – Appeal. The defendant Criminal Cases Review Commission had made no error of law in deciding not to refer the claimant's murder conviction to the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division. Accordingly, the Divisional Court dismissed the claimant's application for judicial review.
Mental health – Persons who lack capacity. A proposed care plan that would involve an element of deception was compliant with the individual's rights under art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, provided the best interests exercise had been carried out. If the care plan was in a person's best interests for deception or misrepresentation to take place, then the court would be obliged to authorise that. Accordingly, the Court of Protection, in allowing the applicant NHS trust's application for declarations to the extent stated in the judgment, ruled that it was in the best interests of a young autistic woman who suffered from severe abdominal pain to undergo a hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy and colonoscopy (with associated surgical procedures), and for the proposed care plan to be implemented in its final amended form.
Immigration – Detention. There had been a violation of art 5(1) of the European Convention on Human Rights by the claimant's immigration detention from 4 March 2011 to 6 July 2011 due to the deficiencies in her detention reviews. The European Court of Human Rights further held that the applicant had to have suffered distress as a result of being unlawfully detained in immigration detention and would be awarded €3,500 in respect of non-pecuniary damage.
Prison – Prisoner. The complaint of the applicant prisoners that they had been subject to a blanket ban on voting in elections and had, accordingly, been prevented from voting in elections had disclosed a breach of art 3 of the First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights (A3P1). The European Court of Human Rights held that, at the date of the index elections which preceded the package of measures adopted by the respondent government, the statutory ban on prisoners voting in elections had been, by reason of its blanket character, incompatible with A3P1.
Landlord and tenant – Tenancy. The appellant's appeal against findings of the master in a dispute concerning guarantee provisions in a licence failed. The Chancery Division held that, on the true construction of the licence, the guarantee provisions to assign certain leased premises were enforceable and were not struck down by the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant (Covenants) Act 1995.
Contract – Duress. A lack of reasonable grounds in resisting a claim of payment of commission was insufficient to engage the doctrine of economic duress where the pressure involved the commission or threat of lawful acts. In so holding, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed the appellant Pakistan International Airlines Corporation's appeal and held that the reasons given by the judge were not capable of sustaining his conclusion that the respondent family run travel agent had been entitled to avoid the New Agreement with the appellant on the grounds of economic duress.
Injunction – Interim injunction. It was clear that the claimant company's application for an interim injunction to suspend the defendant local authority's decision to award or execute a road-improvement contract to the interested party had to be refused. The Administrative Court in reaching that decision set out the considerations material in deciding whether the necessary public element was present.
Practice – Family proceedings. A High Court writ of control could only be issued in a case otherwise proceeding in the Family Court if (and only if) a transfer to the High Court of the proceedings had been authorised by the President of the Family Division, a judge of the Court of Appeal or a puisne judge. Accordingly, the Family Court ruled that a High Court writ of control (concerning a lump sum which the husband had been required to pay the wife, by virtue of a consent order made in divorce proceedings) had not been lawfully generated and issued, because no order sanctioning a transfer of the proceedings to the High Court had been made by the President of the Family Division, a judge of the Court of Appeal or a puisne judge. Accordingly, the writ of control was set aside and the High Court enforcement officers were ordered to return, to the husband, the sum of £8,304.72 which had been wrongly taken from him as part of the enforcement process.
European Union – Financial markets. Directive (EC) 2004/39, as amended by Directive 2010/78/EU, in particular arts 8, 23, 50 and 51 thereof, arts 49 and 56 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union and the principles of non‑discrimination and proportionality should be interpreted as meaning that a temporary prohibition on exercising the activity of financial adviser authorised to provide offsite services fell neither within the scope of that directive, nor that of arts 49 and 56 TFEU or that of the principles of non-discrimination and proportionality. Accordingly, arts 8, 23, 50 and 51 of that directive, arts 49 and 56 TFEU and the principles of non‑discrimination and proportionality did not preclude such a prohibition. The Court of Justice of the European Union so held in a preliminary ruling in proceedings concerning the lawfulness of the respondent Italian National Companies and Stock Exchange Commission's decision to temporarily prohibit the applicant from exercising the activity of financial adviser authorised to provide offsite services.
Contract – Warranty. The claimant company's claim succeeded, in part, in a dispute concerning the valuation of a company that it had acquired through a share purchase agreement. The Commercial Court held that there had been breaches of warranty regarding certain of the company's accounts. Among other things, the accounts had underrated the company's liability to pay claims under a scheme, and there had been a failure to disclose a change in the method of remunerating insurance brokers which had occurred part way through the 2013 financial year, which had allowed the company to defer accounting for a large amount of that expense.
European Union – Environment. Annex III to Directive (EC) 2008/98, as amended, had to be interpreted to the effect that a holder of waste which could be classified under either hazardous waste codes or non-hazardous waste codes, but the composition of which was not immediately known, should, in view of that classification, determine that composition and ascertain the hazardous substances which might reasonably be found in that waste in order to establish whether that waste had hazardous properties and could, for that purpose, use the sampling, chemical analyses and tests provided for in Commission Regulation (EC) No 440/2008, or any other internationally recognised sampling, chemical analysis or test. The Court of Justice of the European Union so held in a preliminary ruling in criminal proceedings against the defendants concerning, among other things, illegal waste trafficking.
Company – Insolvency. The applicant provisional liquidators' application for recognition in Great Britain of a company's liquidation as a 'foreign main proceeding' under the Cross-Border Insolvency Regulations 2006, SI 2006/1030, succeeded. The Chancery Division held that s 161 of the Bermuda Companies Act could fairly be described as a 'law relating to insolvency', as per art 2(g) of the UNICTRAL model law. It was clearly right that a winding up on just and equitable grounds could qualify for recognition in circumstances where the entity was insolvent.
Police – Negligence. The claimant, aged 59, who had autistic spectrum disorder and bi-polar disorder, had established (to the extent specified in the judgment) liability against the defendant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police for trespass to the person and in negligence. The Queen's Bench Division so ruled, concerning an incident in which police officers had used CS gas and a taser, and had physically restrained the claimant outside his flat, after he had suffered an episode of acute behavioural disorder.
Criminal law – Manslaughter. The judge's direction to the jury on attribution of knowledge of the business (or a worker) with that of the defendant on the basis that the defendant had been responsible for the system in the restaurant had rendered his conviction unsafe. However, the Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, in allowing the defendant's appeal against conviction for manslaughter on that ground, held that the judge had not been wrong to refuse to direct the jury to consider whether there had been a serious and obvious risk that the defendant's breach of duty would cause the deceased to die, as opposed to others suffering from peanut allergy.