Menu My portfolio: 0

Matrix Judgments & Commentary

Matrix’s Legal Support Service produce summaries of cases that Matrix members are involved in, which you can find below. You can browse these through the search function on the right.

Widow has real prospect of success in claim for negligence against company based in Bangladesh

Begum v Maran [2020] 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.

High Court hands down judgment in defamation challenge to statements made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show

Millett v Corbyn [2020] EWHC 1848 (QB)

This was a claim for defamation arising out of a statement made by Jeremy Corbyn on the Andrew Marr Show at the time Jeremy Corbyn was the leader of the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn’s interview with Andrew Marr concerned, amongst other subjects, allegations that Mr Corbyn was an anti-Semite. Mr Corbyn made the Statement in response to questions from Mr Marr in relation to a speech which Mr Corbyn had made some years earlier. Mr Millett alleged that the words spoken by Mr Corbyn in the Programme were defamatory of him and their publication caused and is likely to cause serious harm to his reputation.

The Court found that Mr Millett was being accused of abusive behaviour in relation to a public speaker on a controversial topic. This is an accusation of a type of conduct which is contrary to the values of a modern democracy where freedom of speech is a cherished value. Further, the behaviour of which he was accused was of such a level of seriousness (at the first meeting to which Mr Corbyn made reference) as to involve the police in potentially ejecting Mr Millett and the other individual (suggesting criminal misconduct). Again, this suggests conduct falling below the standards expected of citizens in modern British society.

The Court also considered that there was both a personal defamation as to Mr Millett’s character and a professional form of defamation in relation to how he was said to behave in his profession as a person attending and reporting on meetings of the type in issue.

Adoption and fostering agency’s recruitment policy found to violate the Equality Act and the Human Rights Act for requiring carer applicants to be heterosexual

R (Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service Ltd v Ofsted [2020] EWHC 1679 (Admin)

This case concerned whether it is lawful for an adoption and fostering agency only to accept heterosexual evangelical Christians as the potential carers of fostered children. Cornerstone (North East) Adoption and Fostering Service Ltd sought to judicially review a report by Ofsted, which found its carer recruitment policy to be in violation of equality and human rights laws and required it to change the policy.

Cornerstone operates as an independent fostering agency and is founded on, and operates according to, its perception of evangelical Christian principles. In practice, the only potential carers Cornerstone accepts are evangelical married heterosexual couples of the opposite sex.

The Court held, inter alia, that Cornerstone’s recruitment policy was unlawfully discriminatory in breach of s 29(1) of the EA 2010, alternatively, s 29(6), in both cases read with s 13 and/or s 19, insofar as it requires applicants to refrain from ‘homosexual behaviour’. The policy unlawfully discriminates, directly or indirectly, against gay men and lesbians. The disapplication of the general exemption in [2(3)] of Sch 23 provided by [2(10)] applies because Cornerstone performs functions on behalf of public authorities pursuant to contract.

Cornerstone’s recruitment policy was held to violate Article 14 of the Convention read with Article 8 insofar as it required carer applicants to be heterosexual. Its policy unlawfully discriminated against gay men and lesbians.

Search warrants against investigative journalists quashed in Northern Ireland

In the matter of an application by Fine Point films MOR11288

This case is concerned with the circumstances in which police can use the ex parte procedure contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (“PACE”) to obtain a search warrant in respect of journalistic material. The applicants seek orders quashing warrants issued to a police detective of the serious crime branch of the PSNI on 10 August 2018 authorising the search of the homes of the second and third applicants and the business premises of each of them in connection with the investigation of offences of theft, handling stolen goods, unlawful disclosure of information entrusted in confidence and unlawfully obtaining personal data.

Held: the order for the warrants are quashed. It is a fundamental principle of any ex parte hearing that it also be a fair hearing. That is particularly the case where the object of the application is to significantly intrude into the private and family lives of those affected.  The court should have imposed a heavy onus on those seeking to pursue ex parte proceedings to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the proceedings are fair.

Although there was some acknowledgement of the importance of journalists in a democratic society in the course of the hearing the judge was not advised that Article 10 Convention rights were engaged, nor was he provided with any of the relevant jurisprudence nor was it made clear to him that a warrant such as this sought could only be justified by an overriding requirement in the public interest. This issue was absolutely fundamental to whether or not a warrant should be issued and the failure to address it means that we can have no confidence that the trial judge applied the right test.

The conduct of this hearing fell woefully short of the standard required to ensure that the hearing was fair.  That was sufficient for our decision to quash the warrant.  

High Court quashes DPP decision not to charge employers in domestic servitude case

L v Director of Public Prosecutions [2020] EWHC 1815 (Admin)

The Claimant challenged the decision of the CPS on behalf of the DPP not to bring charges against her former employers for arranging her entry into the UK in circumstances in which they intended to exploit her, contrary to section 4 of the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004.
The Claimant had obtained work for a Mr and Mrs Aljaberi in Abu Dhabi through an agency. Mr Aljaberi wanted the Claimant to accompany his family to London and the Claimant contended that he had told her he would reimburse her £1000 monthly for the work done in London. The Claimant was only remunerated £100-£200 per month. The Claimant contended that she was mistreated during her employment. The Home Office had concluded, on the balance of probabilities, that the Claimant had been recruited for the purpose of domestic servitude and had been deceived as to the salary she would receive in the UK and hours she would be required to work. The CPS, however, had decided not to charge Mr and Mrs Aljaberi which the Claimant challenged in the present proceedings.
The Court allowed the claim and quashed the decision not to charge the employers. It held that proper decision making in a charging context requires the prosecutor to assess the available evidence against the elements of the potential offence. In this case the decision maker’s approach was fundamentally flawed.