Matheson updates

Assisting lay litigants: recent guidance
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • November 07 2017

Straitened times have led to an increase in litigation before the courts involving lay litigants or litigants in person acting without formal legal representation. Notwithstanding that such litigants may not have instructed a solicitor or barrister, they sometimes appear with assistance from a non-legally qualified third party. Recent practice directions across the various levels of the court provide important guidance on the scope of such assistance.

Supreme Court decision puts after-the-event insurance under spotlight
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • October 10 2017

A recent Supreme Court decision confirming that third-party litigation funding in return for a share of the proceeds is unlawful in Ireland has put after-the-event (ATE) insurance back in the spotlight as the only legitimate alternative method of funding litigation. Although a relatively new insurance product, a number of insurers are now providing ATE insurance in Ireland.

Minimum Competency Code to incorporate implementation of EU Insurance Distribution Directive
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • September 19 2017

The Minimum Competency Code 2017 has been introduced to incorporate the implementation of the EU Insurance Distribution Directive, the EU Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II and associated European Securities and Markets Authority guidelines and the European Regulations 2016. The main changes under the code relate to the qualification and experience requirements of the staff of financial services providers.

Fasten your seat belts: driverless cars to rev up insurance industry
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • June 13 2017

The existing legislative and regulatory framework for motor insurance in Ireland is driver-centric and needs to adapt for the era of autonomous vehicles. At present, driving is defined as 'managing and controlling' a vehicle. This is not appropriate for autonomous vehicles, where the technology and not the driver controls the vehicle. The legal landscape must keep pace with this cutting-edge technology and efforts must be made now to consider how best to address the various issues which will arise.

Court of Appeal confirms no general duty of good faith in Irish contract law
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • March 28 2017

A recent Court of Appeal decision has restored certainty that under Irish law there is no general duty of good faith in the context of commercial contracts. The decision has a wide application and is of interest to all parties across the entire spectrum of commercial contractual arrangements. It clarifies important questions in relation to the proper approach to the interpretation and implication of terms in a commercial contract.

Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • February 21 2017

The Consumer Insurance Contracts Bill 2017 recently passed the second stage in the Dáil (the lower house of Parliament) and will now proceed to the committee stage. The bill will apply to consumer insurance contracts only. It will replace the existing duty of disclosure with a statutory duty to answer specific questions carefully and honestly and will allow the insured to claim damages for late payment of claims by insurers. At present, there is no timeline for implementation.

New court rules: delay in SI 255 implementation
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • February 07 2017

Two new statutory instruments (SI 254/2016 and SI 255/2016), which make wide-ranging reforms to the procedural rules applicable to civil litigation, recently entered into force. However, a number of the rules contained in SI 255 are dependent on the assignment of list judges and registrars to the chancery and non-jury lists. The High Court has stated that it does not intend to assign either list judges or registrars until the necessary resources have been put in place.

Leapfrog appeals and third-party funding: Persona v Ireland
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • January 31 2017

In a recent case, the High Court upheld a centuries-old prohibition on litigation funding by a third party in return for a share of the proceeds with the party that has a genuine interest in the case. Both parties sought leave for a leapfrog appeal of the High Court's decision to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court determined that this case did in fact meet the 'exceptional circumstances' requirement to justify a leapfrog appeal.

Judicial endorsement of Central Bank inquiries
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • January 24 2017

The Central Bank's inquiry process received resounding endorsement by the High Court in decisions against two former directors of the Irish Nationwide Building Society, Michael Fingleton and John Stanley Purcell. In July 2015 the Central Bank published a notice of inquiry confirming that it was to investigate alleged regulatory breaches. Fingleton and Purcell brought separate challenges aimed at overturning the decision, but the claims were recently dismissed.

Avoidance of life assurance policy for non-disclosure of material facts
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • January 03 2017

The High Court recently upheld a finding of the Financial Services Ombudsman that an insurer was entitled to avoid a life assurance policy on the grounds of non-disclosure. Significantly, the decision turned on the strength of the proposal form and serves as a useful reminder to insurers of the importance of a well-drafted proposal form.

Avoidance of life assurance policy for non-disclosure of material facts
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • December 20 2016

The High Court recently upheld a finding of the Financial Services Ombudsman that an insurer was entitled to avoid a life assurance policy on the grounds of non-disclosure. Significantly, the decision turned on the strength of the proposal form and serves as a useful reminder to insurers of the importance of a well-drafted proposal form.

Mediation not always appropriate
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • September 27 2016

A recent High Court decision reaffirms that not all cases are appropriate for mediation. Although the Irish courts are supportive of mediation and recognise the benefits that it may bring in the context of a commercial dispute, the court rules pursuant to which proceedings might be adjourned to facilitate mediation will not always be invoked. In considering whether to make an order pursuant to the relevant rule, various factors are relevant to the exercise of the courts' discretion.

Cross-examination and interlocutory applications
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • August 16 2016

A recent High Court decision confirms that cross-examination of deponents of affidavits will not generally be permitted on an interlocutory application. This decision serves as a useful reminder that interlocutory applications typically proceed by way of affidavit evidence only. Accordingly, a party involved in an interlocutory application should think twice before seeking to cross-examine a deponent.

Supreme Court guidance on litigation limits
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • July 05 2016

The Irish judiciary has long been cognisant of the rights of all parties to access the courts and have a right to a fair hearing. However, due to straitened economic circumstances, litigation is increasingly conducted by litigants in person, meaning that strict compliance with court procedures is not always possible. The Supreme Court recently offered some guidance with regard to the allocation of court resources and the extent to which litigants might be indulged by the court.

Modular trials: new rules and old guidance
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • June 28 2016

The Irish courts have recognised the possibility of modular trials, where a specific or discrete module of the proceedings might be tried in and of itself, independently of any other aspects of the proceedings, as being appropriate in certain circumstances. It is apparent from existing case law that modular trials constitute an exception to the usual unitary approach to hearings in Ireland. Accordingly, it is only in exceptional cases that a modular trial may be ordered.

Outsourcing under EU Solvency II regime
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • June 21 2016

The EU Solvency II Directive was transposed into domestic Irish law by the European Union (Insurance and Reinsurance) Regulations. The Solvency II regime provides welcome clarity regarding the functions that an insurer may outsource and the requirements which must be complied with before outsourcing. This is particularly welcome news for captive insurers which tend to rely heavily on outsource service providers.

Old limitations on third-party funding still apply
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • May 24 2016

The High Court recently confirmed that maintenance and champerty remain part of Irish law. The decision is significant to third-party funders, which face a challenging legal landscape in Ireland. Ultimately, the court concluded that maintenance and champerty continue to be torts and offences in Ireland and, as such, it is prohibited for an entity to fund litigation in which it has no independent or good-faith interest for a share of the profits.

ADR invitations not always appropriate
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • March 22 2016

The Court of Appeal has confirmed that although alternative dispute resolution is worthwhile in many cases, it is inappropriate to invite parties to mediate in all cases. The decision identifies the circumstances that a court may consider when faced with an application to issue an invitation to mediate. It is one example of a case in which the novelty of the legal issues involved mean that making the order sought is inappropriate.

Solicitors' professional indemnity insurance regulations do not create third-party rights
Matheson
  • Insurance
  • Ireland
  • March 08 2016

The High Court recently confirmed that third-party rights against insurers in Ireland are restricted, providing comfort for insurers in the context of solicitors' professional indemnity insurance. The decision is consistent with recent confirmation from the authorities that third parties have no direct right of action against insurers. To the extent that a specific statutory provision permits a restricted right of action, the insured defendant's liability must be established in the first instance.

Injunctions and the nature of the order sought
Matheson
  • Litigation
  • Ireland
  • March 01 2016

A recent High Court decision has confirmed that when faced with an injunction application, the court will examine the precise nature of the order sought in considering whether to grant an injunction, rather than simply relying on how the applicant might characterise it. This arises from the fact that different standards apply, depending on whether the order sought is prohibitory or mandatory in nature.

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