European Commission backs Hague Judgments Convention

We start the week with one eye on the future. On Friday, The European Commission adopted a proposal for the EU to accede to the Hague Judgments Convention.

Didier Reynders, European Commissioner for Justice, said:

Having one’s rights enforced in a country outside of the EU can be very cumbersome, both for private persons and for businesses. The EU joining the Hague Judgments Convention would improve legal certainty and save citizens and companies time and money. The average length of proceedings would decrease considerably.

The Convention, which facilitates the recognition and enforcement of judgements in civil and commercial matters, could go some way to plugging the enforcement gap left by the UK’s departure from the Brussels-Lugano regime.

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An English fatal accident claim with a Spanish twist

In Chouza v Martin & Ors [2021] EWHC 1669 (QB), Martin Spencer J considered a number of interesting issues arising out of a fatal road traffic accident. John-Paul Swoboda of 12 King’s Bench Walk represented the Claimant.

Although there was no foreign applicable law in this case, the judgment depended heavily on expert foreign law evidence to assist with quantification of the claim according to English law principles. It is a reminder that the need for foreign law evidence is not necessarily restricted to “standard” cross-border claims: it may also be vital in proving the quantum of losses recoverable in English law claims by the estate and the dependants.

In this blog post, Richard Ive, a pupil at 12 King’s Bench Walk, considers the interplay between English law quantification and the relevant foreign law. Although this blog post focuses only on the “international” aspects of this judgment, it is worth noting that the case also contains many additional interesting points concerning the nature of dependency and other issues in fatal accident claims, which make it worth reading in full.

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EU: Lugano is off the table

We previously blogged about reports that the European Commission had advised the EU not to allow the UK to accede to the Lugano Convention.

On 1 July 2021, Switzerland, in its capacity as depository of the Convention, notified the Parties to the Convention that the EU has formally withheld its consent to the UK’s accession:

With reference to its notification of 14 April 2020, the depositary informs that, by communication received on 28 June 2021, the European Union notified not to be in a position to give its consent to invite the United Kingdom to accede to the Lugano Convention (see enclosed note verbale of 22 June 2021).

The EU note verbale withholding consent is available here.

Inquests overseas: common issues and how to get around them

I am grateful to Natasha Jackson of 3 Hare Court for letting me feature this excellent article on inquests overseas and their interaction with the process in England and Wales. The article first appeared in 3 Hare Court’s Travel & Aviation Quarterly, which can be accessed here.

Inevitably a coroner conducting an inquisition into a death abroad will be faced with difficulties of evidence and so on, but that must have been so ever since the statute of George II … Coroners are well experienced [in] dealing with such problems.

R v West Yorkshire Coroner, ex parte Smith [1983] QB 335, per Lord Lane CJ

Inquests and inquiries into deaths that occurred out of the jurisdiction give rise to a number of particular complexities. This article looks at some of the issues that practitioners may want to consider when acting in an inquest involving a foreign death.

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Setting aside a default judgment: danger for foreign defendants

This blog post draws attention to a short practice point which was commented on by the judge in Alli-Balogun v On the Beach Ltd & Ors [2021] EWHC 1702 (QB).

The decision related to an (unsuccessful) attempt by a Spanish insurer to set aside a default judgment entered in relation to a claim by a child who had suffered catastrophic injuries in a swimming pool whilst on holiday in Spain.

Harry Steinberg QC of 12 King’s Bench Walk represented the Claimant.

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Strike out applications denied in Malawian tobacco farmers group action

Martin Spencer J has rejected applications to strike out the claims of some 7,263 Malawian tobacco farmers brought against companies within the British American Tobacco group and Imperial Tobacco group.

The claims, under citation Josiya and Ors v British American Tobacco Plc and Ors [2021] EWHC 1743 (QB), are for negligence, conversion (of tobacco leaves), and unjust enrichment. The judgment has recently been uploaded to the Leigh Day website.

Kate Boakes of 12 King’s Bench Walk is instructed by Leigh Day on behalf of the Claimants.

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High Court approves settlement in cruise ship meningitis claim

This blog post draws attention to the decision of Andrew Baker J in RCX v PMX [2021] EWHC 816 (Admlty). This was a claim arising out of serious injuries suffered by a child who developed meningitis on board a cruise ship. The judgment has recently been released on Westlaw.

The injured child brought a claim in the courts of Florida. This was countered by a separate claim by the cruise company for an anti-suit injunction in the courts of England and Wales. Just before a jurisdiction battle in the English proceedings, the substantive claim settled. The judge was asked to approve the settlement.

Of particular interest for the purposes of this blog are the judge’s observations on the strategic aspects of the jurisdiction dispute and its implications for his approach to approval of the settlement.

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An ‘unrestrained litigation extravaganza’: Court of Appeal gives guidance on employment contract jurisdiction rules

What better way to start a Monday morning than with a litigation extravaganza?

In Alta Trading UK Ltd v Bosworth [2021] EWCA Civ 687, the Court of Appeal considered the ‘individual contracts of employment’ provisions of the Lugano Convention.

The issue arose in the context of a claim brought by companies trading in oil and oil derivatives arising out of a substantial and sustained fraud allegely perpetrated on them by their former CEO and CFO (the Defendants).

The ruling has continuing relevance because the post-Brexit English rules on both jurisdiction and service have in effect replicated the previous Brussels-Lugano rules concerning ‘individual contracts of employment’. These constitute one of the crucial exceptional categories of cases in which there is no need for permission to serve abroad.

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Permission to cross-examine medical expert overturned in holiday sickness case

An important recent holiday sickness decision was reported on the Civil Litigation Brief website earlier this month.

Taylor v TUI UK Ltd (Unreported) Newcastle-Upon-Tyne County Court (HHJ Freedman) involved a successful appeal against a case management direction allowing the Defendant tour operator, TUI, to cross-examine the Claimant’s expert at trial.

It is significant not just for holiday sickness litigation, but also for the approach to challenges to expert evidence in Fast Track matters more generally.

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Ryanair challenges travel traffic light system

Something of a newsflash for those yet to see today’s headline story that Ryanair and Manchester Airports Group are launching a legal action over the government’s travel traffic light system.

According to the report, the challenge ‘has been put together after huge frustration within the travel industry at the inclusion of Portugal on the green list in mid-May and then its sudden removal a few weeks later.’ The action apparently enjoys substantial backing in the travel industry, and ‘further signatories to the challenge are set to be revealed on Thursday.’

Whether the prospect of this challenge will force the government to relax the current restrictions on travel in time for the summer holidays remains to be seen. We will of course blog on updates about the nature of the challenge as soon as further details are released.