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Court: Queen’s Bench Division

£33 million judgment from Federal Court of Nigeria, unenforceable in UK

Agbara v The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited [2019] EWHC 3340 (QB)

This case discusses the setting aside of the registration of a judgment of the Federal Court of Nigeria for damages worth approximately £33m, before interest, under the Administration of Justice Act 1920, s9. This would mean that the judgment was not enforceable in the UK.

Held: appeal allowed and the registration of judgment will be set aside. The applicant suffered a serious breach of natural justice through being prevented from presenting its defence to the claim, and such a breach would ordinarily lead to the conclusion that it is not “just and convenient” for the judgment to be registered. It would not be just and convenient for the judgment to be enforced in the UK.

Discrimination in migration to Universal Credit

R (TP AR & SXC) v SSWP & Anor [2019] EWHC 1116 (QB)

The provisions in the draft Universal Credit (Managed Migration Pilot and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations are discriminatory under ECHR, art 14 insofar as they treat two groups of severely disabled people differently in terms of migration to Universal Credit. The differential treatment arose depending on whether persons in receipt of the Severe Disability Premium had already […]

Permission granted to judicially review Home Office policy concerning victims of trafficking

NN and LP v SSHD [2019] EWHC 1003 (Admin)

In an action brought by two victims of modern slavery, the High Court today continued interim relief barring the government from automatically ending support to any victim of trafficking, 45 days from receipt of a positive Conclusive Grounds decision. The judge accepted that the automatic cessation of support after 45 days carried a serious risk of irreparable harm to victims, many of whom have undergone experiences akin to the Claimants, LP (trafficked and repeatedly raped) and NN (trafficked, held in slave conditions and badly beaten).The High Court also granted permission to judicially review the three aspects of the Defendant’s policy concerning victims of modern slavery:(1) A challenge to the 45-day rule, by which the Home Office automatically ceases support to trafficking victims 45 days from a Conclusive Grounds decision. The Claimants contend that support should be provided pursuant to the Trafficking Convention and Directive, unless and until a victim leaves the jurisdiction;(2) A challenge to the Defendant’s policy regarding extensions of support to victims of trafficking beyond 45 days. The Claimants contend that the failure to publish criteria applicable to such decisions is unlawful and that the restrictive unpublished criteria unlawfully fail to give effect to the UK’s obligations under the Trafficking Convention; and(3) A challenge to the scheduling rule, by which the Home Office defers a decision on whether a victim of trafficking is entitled to discretionary leave to remain pending a decision on whether to grant them asylum (a process often associated with prolonged delay and the attendant anxiety of an insecure immigration status). The Claimants contend that the scheduling rule is incompatible with the Trafficking Convention, breaches ECHR, art 14 and contravenes Equality Act 2010, s19 by indirectly discriminating against non-EU nationals.The decision on interim relief has broader significance for the availability generic interim relief in public law proceedings i.e. benefitting a wider class of persons similarly situated to Claimants. The High Court rejected the Defendant’s arguments that (a) Senior Courts Act 1981, s31(2A) statutorily barred such relief and (b) that save in very restrictive circumstances, the grant of relief on behalf of persons unknown was unavailable in judicial review proceedings.

Officer not personally liable if acting ‘bona fide’ within scope of authority

Nerijus Antuzis and Ors v Houghton Catching Services Ltd & Ors [2019] EWHC 843 (QB)

This case discusses a preliminary issue which is relevant to upcoming case, which will discuss the alleged exploitative working conditions of Lithuanian nationals employed at various farms to catch chickens, which were then transported for slaughter and subsequent human consumption. The applicant’s contend they worked extremely long hours and were paid less than the statutory minimum prescribed by the Agricultural Wages Act and the Orders made under it.The preliminary issue to be heard was whether the second and third defendants are personally, jointly and/or severally liable to the claimants for the first defendant’s breaches of contract. The present proceedings do not involve the fourth defendant.Held: The principle in Said v Butt exempts an officer of a company from personal liability for the tort of inducing breach of contract by that company if he is acting “bona fide within the scope of his authority”.Mr Justice Lane confirmed that the focus of the “bona fide” inquiry is on an officer’s conduct and intention in relation to his duties towards the company, not towards the third party (adopting the approach of the Court of Appeal of Singapore in Arthaputra and others v St Microelectronics Asia Pacific Pte Ltd and others [2018] SGCA 17). Thus an officer will not be personally liable if his acts, in his capacity as an officer, are not in themselves in breach of any fiduciary or other personal legal duties owed to the company

Claimant ordered to pay £460,000 as security for defendant’s costs, despite having assets frozen

Stunt v Associated Newspapers [2019] EWHC 511 (QB)

In this case the defendant, Associated Newspapers, applied for the claimant, James Stunt, to provide security for the defendant’s costs of the claim for a sum of £700,000.The judge determined that the claimant had taken steps in relation to his assets that would make it difficult to enforce an order for costs against him. However, he found the terms of this security of costs order may be in conflict between the terms of a previous Restraint Order received by the Claimant six months earlier. The judge was persuaded the existence of the Restraint Order provided a reason in favour of exercising his discretion to grant an order for security in the present case.Consequentially the security for costs order was allowed, but the judge made clear it was wholly without prejudice to the Restraint Order.Antony White QC was involved in this case.