Limitation of action – Registered land. The appellant's appeal in a dispute as to the ownership of property obtained by fraud succeeded. The appellant's father had obtained the property by fraud, and the original owner of the property (MR2) had failed to challenge the fraudulent transfer within the required time limit. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that, among other things, what made the appellant's claim good was not his father's fraud in procuring his registration as proprietor or his complicity in that fraud; but the fact of possession of the property for the requisite 12 years without the consent of MR2.
Immigration – Trafficking people for exploitation. The balance of probabilities was a lawful standard of proof at the conclusive grounds stage of determining whether a person was a victim of trafficking and a lower standard did not have to be applied by virtue of the United Kingdom's human rights obligations. Accordingly, the Administrative Court dismissed the claimant's application for judicial review of the competent authority's decision that she was not a victim of trafficking.
Mortgage – Receiver. Where a receiver had an opportunity to include a mortgaged property in a portfolio sale, it could not be said that the receiver would be in breach of his duty to the mortgagor by considering whether to take advantage of that opportunity. However, the receiver was not able to include a mortgaged property in a portfolio sale, unless he had asked himself whether that course was likely to be in the best interests of the mortgagor of that property. The Chancery Division, in dismissing the claimant's claim against the second to the third defendant receivers, who had been appointed by the first defendant bank, held that the claimant had failed to establish that they had breached the duty they had owed to him by selling mortgaged property as part of a portfolio. The court further dismissed the claimant's claim against the bank, having construed the first loan agreement made by the parties in favour of the bank. The court also ruled that there had been no breach or duress on the part of the bank in respect of a second loan agreement made with the claimant and the bank's counterclaim for the sum due to it under that agreement succeeded.
Landlord and tenant – Commercial lease – Construction – Rent review – Expert's jurisdiction. Court of Session: In an action in which the tenant of commercial subjects sought declarator that the open market rent was to be calculated on the basis of a hypothetical lease of the subjects which disregarded the presence of any buildings or tenant's improvements, and the defender pled that the court had no jurisdiction to determine that dispute as the effect of a clause of the lease was that it fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of the expert appointed to determine the open market rent, the court held that on a proper construction of the lease the contracting parties did not expressly or impliedly agree that the legal interpretation of 'the leased subjects' and of the assumptions and disregards were remitted exclusively to the expert, and the court therefore had jurisdiction to entertain the action of declarator.
Contract – Construction. The correct construction of a master agreement meant that the defendants' obligation to pay the deferred consideration in return for the purchase of the claimants' interests in a copper mine, had not been triggered. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissed the claimants' appeal.
Contract law – Terms – Restraint of trade. Sheriff Appeal Court: Refusing an appeal in an action in which the pursuers and appellants demanded payment of a sum due under a share purchase agreement and the respondent averred that payment was no longer due because the appellants were in breach of contract, the court held that the clause of the contract on which the respondent relied could not be characterised as a contractual term which was in restraint of trade: there was no loss of liberty by the appellants; instead, they had agreed to secure, if they could, the co-operation of third parties and that did not engage the concept of the rule of restraint of trade as developed in the authorities.
Inheritance tax – Lifetime transfer. The covenants in a reversionary sub-lease to observe and perform the provisions of the head lease had amounted to a benefit by contract to the appellant tax payer within the meaning of FA 1986 s 102(1)(b). Accordingly, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissed the tax payer's appeal against the decision of the Upper Tribunal (Tax and Chancery Chamber), which had held that a reversionary sub-lease granted on favourable terms by the deceased to her three sons was subject to inheritance tax.
Restrictive covenant affecting land – Benefit of covenant. On a correct assessment of the circumstances of the case, no discretion had arisen under s 84(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 according to which there was any basis for the Upper Tribunal (Lands Chamber) (the UT) to modify restrictive covenants so as to permit residential development. Accordingly, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed the appellant Trust's appeal against the UT's decision to allow the respondent developer's application to modify the restrictive covenants.
Contract – Formation of contract. The claimant company's claim failed, in a dispute concerning the claimant's attempt to purchase shares in a hospitality business launched by V, in which the defendants had invested. The Commercial Court held that the powers of attorney under which V had attended a meeting with the claimant had not been sufficiently broad to encompass entry into the deed and/or the contract as alleged.
Local authority – Child. The defendant had not breached the third claimant child's rights under art 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights as a result of him being housed in unsuitable accommodation until alternative accommodation had been offered. Accordingly, the Administrative Court dismissed the claimants' application for judicial review.
European Union – State aid. The assessment of the compatibility of the aid scheme for the capacity market in the UK (the measure at issue) had given rise to doubts within the meaning of Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999, which should have led the European Commission to initiate the procedure referred to in art 108(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Consequently, the General Court of the European Union granted the application by Tempus Energy Ltd (established in the UK) and another company for annulment of Commission Decision C(2014) 5083 final of 23 July 2014 not to raise objections to the measure at issue.
Conflict of laws – Jurisdiction. The defendant's application for an order stating that the English court lacked jurisdiction to consider the claimant company's claim was dismissed, in a dispute concerning the defendant's liabilities in the insurance of a ship. The Commercial Court held that the application had not been made in time and refused relief against sanction.
Counsel – Disciplinary proceedings. The five-person tribunal which had determined disciplinary proceedings concerning the appellant unregistered barrister had had jurisdiction to deal with the matter, as the provisions for the constitution of a panel in reg rE60 of the Complaints Regulations were clearly procedural requirements that did not, if breached, mean that a panel had no jurisdiction. The Divisional Court, in dismissing the appellant's appeal, further held that fact that the appellant's case had been dealt with by a panel of five, rather than three, had not been unfair to her and unjust.
Natural justice – Legitimate expectation. The court should not, as a matter of public law, lend itself to deployment or enforcement of statements made on a 'what is said in this room stays in this room' basis, such as comments by the then Prime Minister with respect to the announced, but terminated, part 2 of the Leveson inquiry relating to the press. The Divisional Court, in dismissing the claimants' application for judicial review of the termination decision, further rejected their contention that their legitimate expectation that there would be a part 2 of the inquiry had been breached.
Negligence – Medical negligence. In allowing the appellant doctor's appeal against the award of damages for his admitted negligence, the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, held that the judge was required to apply the 'scope of duty test' as set out in South Australian Asset Management Corportation v York Montague Ltd (SAAMCO). The SAAMCO test required there to be an adequate link between the breach of duty and the particular type of loss claimed and accordingly the appellant although liable for the costs associated with the respondent's sons haemophilia, was not liable for the cost's associated with his autism.
European Union – Community institutions. Council Decision (EU, Euratom) (authorising the opening of negotiations with the UK for an agreement setting out the arrangements for the UK's withdrawal from the EU) which did not produce binding legal effects capable of affecting the interests of the applicants by bringing about a distinct change in their legal position, could not be the subject of an action for annulment. Further, the applicants, who were not directly concerned by the contested decision, did not have standing to bring proceedings pursuant to the fourth paragraph of art 263 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Consequently, the Court of Justice of the European Union dismissed the applicants' application, pursuant to art 263 TFEU, for annulment of that decision.
Solicitor – Billing. In order for a bill to be a 'statute bill' and comply with the Solicitors Act 1974 it did not need to encompass both profit costs and disbursements. Accordingly the Court of Appeal, Civil Division, allowed the solicitor's appeal in respect of cost bills rendered to the respondent clients.
Company – Unfair prejudice. The petitioner's unfair prejudice petition under s 994 of the Companies Act 2006, against three of her deceased husband's relatives and the fourth respondent family-run company, failed. The petitioner had argued that, following the death of her husband, the company's former operating director, she and her son had been excluded from the company in alleged breach of an understanding between the shareholders, and that a transfer made by the company amounted to unfairly prejudicial conduct. The Companies Court ruled that, in the context of a small family company, all the relevant members had given their informed assent to the transfer, that the petitioner had not suffered unfairness as a result of it, and that there was no evidence of the claimed fundamental understanding. Further, the court ruled that where, since the presentation of the petition, the petitioner had been registered as a shareholder of the company and there had been an offer to change the company's new articles of association to reflect the original articles in respect of the right to bequeath shares to family members, any unfairness had been remedied and the probability of unfair prejudicial conduct in the future was too minimal to grant relief.
Immigration – European Union Treaty. There was no coherent policy rationale why the derived right of facilitation under European Union Law sought to be relied on by the respondent, should be limited to cases in which the third country national who was a 'durable partner' had made an application to the immigration authorities of the relationship Member State. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, accordingly dismissed the Secretary of State's appeal and obliged her to reconsider the respondent's application for a residence card taking the derived right of facilitation into account.
Medical practitioner – Disciplinary proceedings. The failure to cross-examine the appellant consultant orthopaedic surgeon comprehensively on an allegation of sexually motivated misconduct had been procedurally unfair. The Administrative Court, in allowing the appellant's appeal, further held that there had been virtually no evidential foundation, nor had there been any clear or sufficient reasoning, for the finding that there had been sexual motivation by the appellant's use of the word 'pretty' at consultations.