Court: Queen’s Bench Division
Begum v Maran  EWHC 1846 (QB)
This case involves the death of an employee whilst working on the demolition of a defunct oil tanker (“the vessel”) in the Zuma Enterprise Shipyard (“the yard”) in Chittagong (now Chattogram), Bangladesh. The deceased’s widow issued proceedings claiming damages for negligence under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976; alternatively, under Bangladeshi law. The scope of the proceedings has subsequently been broadened inasmuch as draft Amended Particulars of Claim advance a cause of action in restitution: more precisely, unjust enrichment.
Held: The claimant has a real prospect of succeeding in relation to her claim in negligence, however her claim in unjust enrichment is unsustainable. The the claimant has a real prospect of establishing that her claim is governed by English law and that if Bangladeshi law were to apply to the claim in tort, it would be statute-barred.
Administrative Court quashes Academy Order in respect of maintained middle school due to failure to consider prejudice to ongoing local authority review of unviable three-tier school structure
Somerset County Council & Secretary of State for Education & Ors  EWHC 1675 (Admin)
The Administrative Court has quashed an Academy Order permitting a community middle school maintained by Somerset County Council to join a Multi-Academy Trust (‘MAT’) in the midst of an on-going local authority-led review process seeking a solution to an unviable historic three-tier school system in the Crewkerne and Ilminster area. Fraser J found that the Regional Schools Commissioner had unlawfully failed to consider and properly inquire into the negative impact of her decision on the on-going review in circumstances in which the MAT’s commitment to necessary structural reforms was doubtful. There had additionally been a failure by the Commissioner to assess viability in breach of applicable policy and an unlawful failure to give reasons.
Square Global Ltd v Leonard  EWHC 1008],
In this case, the High Court rejected the employee’s defence that he had been constructively dismissed and it enforced his contractual post-termination restrictions in full.
The employee, who was a Head of Desk at an interdealer brokerage firm, had an employment contract with a six-month notice period and six-month post-termination restrictions preventing competitive employment. The contract had a provision for garden leave but no set-off clause. In November 2019, the employee purported to resign without notice, alleging constructive dismissal and the right to enter into competitive employment immediately.
The employer brought a claim to enforce the employee’s notice period and post-termination restrictions. The employee counterclaimed for constructive dismissal and disputed the validity and enforceability of the restrictions. A speedy trial was ordered, with undertakings from the employee in the meantime.
Following a three-day trial in March 2020, the Court rejected the case for constructive dismissal and found that the restrictions were valid and enforceable. The Court described the employee’s evidence under cross-examination in various respects as unconvincing; it found that for a period of over eight months prior to his resignation, the employee sought to ensure there was material that might prove useful in the event of an employment dispute. The Court:
declared that the Defendant remained the Claimant’s employee notwithstanding his purported resignation;
upheld the restraints on competition during the period of the employee’s notice period; and
upheld and enforced the full period of the post-termination restrictions notwithstanding the lack of any garden leave set-off clause.
The employer has also claimed damages in relation to the employee’s refusal to attend work during his notice period. This aspect of the claim will now be considered at a separate damages hearing to be listed in the future.
High court determines ‘Taming of the Screw’ article to mean claimant committed serious misconduct as a prison officer
Hamilton v News Group Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 59 (QB)
This case involved the determination of meaning as a preliminary issue for a libel claim. The claimant was, for a period of months in 2017, a prison officer at Her Majesty’s Prison, Wandsworth. She brings an action for libel and misuse of private information against the publisher of The Sun newspaper in respect of an article published in the print edition of The Sun for 28 February 2018 under the heading, “Taming of the Screw – Jail officer quits after lag ‘fling’”, and a similar online article.
Held: The central, natural and ordinary meaning of each article, in my judgment, is this: “the Claimant committed serious misconduct in her role as a prison officer by engaging in an emotional and physical relationship with an inmate.
Elphicke MP v Times Newspapers Ltd  EWHC 3563 (QB)
This trial determined the preliminary issue of meaning of three articles published in April 2018 under the headlines: ‘Police Quiz Tory MP Charlie Elphicke after two women allege sex crimes’, ‘Police Failed to tell Tory MP Charlie Elphicke about rape claim: Female aide made allegations five months ago’ and ‘A Tory MP is accused of rape and no one stirs: Police delays [and secrecy] are adding to the distress of both parties.’ The claimant is claiming that all three articles were a misuse of private information. He claims that the second and third articles libellous of him.
Held: The meaning of the articles were taken as a whole to mean that there were reasonable grounds to suspect that the Claimant was guilty of rape. The ordinary reader would not understand these articles to make an allegation that the Claimant was guilty of rape. The references in the articles to the complainant’s ‘claims’ and ‘allegations’ to having been raped, do not necessarily protect the Defendant against a Chase level 1 meaning as the repetition rule makes clear, but, at the same time, the use of these words is part of the factual matrix from which the reader will take away the ordinary meanings of the articles.