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Lifestyle Equities v Amazon

Area of Law: Intellectual Property

Michael Edenborough QC, leading Thomas St Quintin of Hogarth Chambers, instructed by Andrew Lee of Brandsmiths, led the successful appeal in Lifestyle Equities v Amazon EWCA Civ 552.

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Toner v Telford Homes Ltd & Ors

Area of Law: Property

A second judgment has been handed down in Toner v Telford Homes Ltd & Ors, in which Amy Proferes acts for the First and Second Defendants. The claim stems from the claimant’s purchase of an off-plan property in 2013. It was originally brought in misrepresentation (either fraudulent or negligent), breach of contract, deceit, negligence, and harassment, against 6 defendants. Although represented at certain points pre-action, the claimant has acted in person throughout the proceedings.   In 2020 4 of the 6 defendants applied for strike out/summary judgment. That application was heard in autumn 2020 and judgment handed down on 5 March 2021 ([2021] EWHC 516 (QB)), pursuant to which various claims were struck out. The claimant was ordered to amend his Particulars of Claim and replead certain allegations by way of Part 18 Information, but failed to comply within the time ordered. He then produced three versions of amended Particulars of Claim and sought to rely on the last of these, which ran to 101 pages. No Part 18 Information was filed and served until November 2021.   The defendants applied for strike out of the claim on the basis that the documents produced by the claimant were an abuse of process or otherwise likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings, as well as in respect of repeated non-compliance with rules, practice directions and court orders. At the hearing of the application, which lasted 3 days, the court effectively dispensed with the amended Particulars of Claim on which the claimant sought to rely and directed detailed amendments to the original Particulars of Claim (including drafting paragraphs which might be inserted) and the Part 18 Information. It also found that the claimant was vulnerable with the meaning of CPR PD1A, on the basis that the subject matter of the litigation and the litigation itself had ‘affected his mental state and led him into a situation which is at least close to something of obsession’.   The judgment raises interesting questions as to the proper application of CPR PD1A and 3.1A. Does PD1A require or allow the court to assist an unrepresented claimant with drafting pleadings, or is it limited to taking steps to ensure participation at hearings and best evidence being given? At what point does assistance given to litigants in person tip the balance and cause prejudice to other parties? The First and Second Defendants are seeking permission to appeal on these and various other grounds, which may provide some clarity.

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Re Klimvest plc

Area of Law: Company

Minority shareholders in plcs will welcome a judgment handed down this morning which has broadened their options.  For the first time in this jurisdiction, the Court has ordered the winding up of a listed plc on the just and equitable ground under section 122(1)(g) of the Insolvency Act 1986 for loss of substratum.  In a reserved judgment following a two-week trial in February 2022, in Re Klimvest plc [2022] EWHC 596 (Ch) the High Court clarified and modernised English law in line with more recent Australian authorities. HH Judge Cawson QC (sitting as a High Court Judge) held that the identification of a company’s purpose or substratum is a matter of equity between the company – even a listed plc – and its shareholders, rather than a formalistic exercise in construing the corporate constitution.  The purpose is lost, potentially triggering winding-up by the Court, not only where carrying it out is “practically impossible” for the company, but also where it has been, or will be, abandoned.  Judge Cawson QC applied the dictum of Jenkins J in Re Eastern Telegraph Co., Ltd [1947] 2 All ER 104 that “if a shareholder has invested his money in the shares of the company on the footing that it is going to carry out some particular object, he cannot be forced against his will by the votes of his fellow shareholders to continue to adventure his money on some quite different project or speculation”.

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Reeves v Drew & Ors

Area of Law: Private Client Trusts and Probate

On 31 January, judgment was handed down by Michael Green J in Reeves v Drew & Ors [2022] EWHC 159 (Ch), one of the most valuable probate claims ever determined in this jurisdiction. The Court held that the wealthy but illiterate testator had not known or approved of the contents of a will which left 80% of his estate to a daughter (the claimant), and inexplicably omitted a son and two grandchildren of whom he was very fond.  The Court held that the claimant had likely engineered the will-making process so that she would get the bulk of the estate.  The will was prepared by a solicitor with whom the claimant was already familiar, and who was prepared to create a false trail of evidence in the will file.

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The Public Institution for Social Security v Al Rajaan & others

Area of Law: Civil Fraud

On 26 January, the Court of Appeal handed down its judgment in The Public Institution for Social Security v Al Rajaan & others [2022] EWCA Civ 29.  The Court dismissed the Claimant’s appeal, which was heard over three days in December 2021, and confirmed that the English court has no jurisdiction to hear bribery and money-laundering claims against a number of Swiss-domiciled individuals and entities. 

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Attorney General v Zedra Fiduciary Services Ltd

Area of Law: Private Client Trusts and Probate

In 1928 £500,000, referred to as the "National Fund", was settled on trust to accumulate income and profits until the date fixed by the trustees as being the date when, either alone or together with other funds then available for the purpose, it was sufficient to discharge the National Debt.  At that time, the Fund was to be transferred to the National Debt Commissioners to be applied by them in reduction of the National Debt.  A special Act had been passed to permit such indefinite accumulations for that purpose.  Since 1928 the Fund has had many large and small additional gifts made to it. 

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Kea Investments Ltd v Watson

Area of Law: Commercial Litigation

Lord Justice Nugee handed down judgment yesterday in Kea Investments Ltd v Watson [2022] EWHC 5 (Ch), rejecting a committed contemnor’s argument that his costs should be paid by the successful applicant. This judgment will be of interest to parties considering committal as a means to secure compliance with court orders as well as to those whose clients are in breach of those orders.

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Barclays Bank Plc v Shetty

Area of Law: Commercial Litigation

Mr Justice Henshaw yesterday handed down judgment in Barclays Bank Plc v Shetty [2022] EWHC 19 (Comm) which will be of interest to litigators facing adjournment applications and those seeking to enforce foreign judgments in England at common law.

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easyGroup v Beauty Perfectionists & ors [2021] EWHC 3385 (Ch)

Area of Law: Intellectual Property

On 17 December 2021, the Chancellor of the High Court, Sir Julian Flaux, handed down judgment in easyGroup v Beauty Perfectionists & ors [2021] EWHC 3385 (Ch). The Defendants applied to strike out the claim so far as it sought EU relief, arguing that the UK court had no jurisdiction to grant EU-wide remedies after 1 January 2021. The Defendants’ arguments included that the UK court could not be considered an “EU trade mark court” for the purposes of pending proceedings. This argument was rejected, and the application to strike out dismissed on the basis of the court’s construction of paragraph 20, Schedule 2A of the Trade Marks Act 1994, which was that:

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