Latest updates

Disclosure orders against banks' overseas branches
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 13 April 2021

In A1 v R1 a novel point appears to have arisen as to whether the High Court could grant Norwich Pharmacal relief in relation to the disclosure of documents and information concerning a bank account held not in Hong Kong but with the overseas branch of a Hong Kong bank. The Court of First Instance decided that it did have such power and, in doing so, reviewed the usual procedures for the grant of Norwich Pharmacal orders against a bank and the general principles that underpin ex parte applications.

Burden of proving witness competency
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 30 March 2021

The Court of Appeal recently reviewed what appears to have been a novel point regarding which party in civil proceedings has the burden of proving that a witness is competent to give evidence at the time of giving evidence. The decision of the first-instance judge and Court of Appeal on the principal point in dispute accords with what is the commonly held understanding – namely, that it is for the party calling a witness to prove (if challenged) that their witness is competent.

Reasonable enquiries must be made upon receipt of potentially confidential information
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 23 March 2021

The Court of Appeal recently held that a recipient of information will be bound by a duty of confidentiality if it was reasonable for them to have made enquiries as to the confidential nature of the information and they failed to do so. The decision arguably imposes a greater burden on a recipient of potentially confidential information to make enquiries of the discloser as to the nature of the information where a reasonable person would do so.

Banks on notice about costs of complying with orders for disclosure
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 16 March 2021

In a recent case, the Court of First Instance ordered a bank to disclose certain records that it held relating to two of the defendants. In this judgment, the court noted not only that there were cost efficiencies to be had by providing electronic disclosure, but also that banks should not in effect be making a profit from complying with disclosure orders. While, in this instance, the plaintiff had agreed to pay the bank's costs, the amount of those costs (per account and per page) appears to have raised judicial eyebrows.

When do UK-domiciled parent companies owe a duty of care to individuals affected by acts of their foreign subsidiaries?
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 16 March 2021

A recent Supreme Court decision on jurisdiction provides helpful guidance on the circumstances in which a UK-domiciled parent company may owe a common law duty of care in respect of the actions of a foreign subsidiary. The decision highlights the importance of carefully considering the way in which parent companies exercise (or purport to exercise) control over the actions of their subsidiaries.

Court of Appeal sets aside contempt regarding statement of truth
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 02 March 2021

In a recent case, the Court of Appeal allowed the defendant's appeal against a lower court's finding that he had made a false statement of truth with respect to an admission in a defence filed on behalf of a company. As is normal in such appeals, the Court of Appeal was reluctant to disturb a lower court's primary finding. However, in this case, the Court of Appeal considered that the lower court had been plainly wrong to make an order for committal for contempt of court.

Lack of list of issues for disclosure does not bar specific disclosure under DPS
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 23 February 2021

According to a recent case, the High Court can order specific disclosure under the Disclosure Pilot Scheme, even where there is no agreed or approved list of issues for disclosure. The decision provides clarification as to the court's jurisdiction to vary orders for extended disclosure. It also confirms that where parties have yet to agree a list of issues for disclosure, it will not prevent the court from making an order to vary a pre-existing order for extended disclosure.

Does an expert owe a fiduciary duty to its client?
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 16 February 2021

For the first time the Court of Appeal has considered the duties of an expert concurrently engaged in two potentially conflicting disputes. While the case involved an unusual set of circumstances, it provides an interesting review of the duties owed by expert witnesses to their clients and the court and highlights important considerations for those engaging expert witnesses and drafting engagement letters.

Court reviews implied undertaking not to use documents for collateral purpose
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 16 February 2021

The High Court recently released a party from an implied undertaking not to use documents for a collateral purpose. In this case, the documents in question had been provided by the second respondent to the police in support of its criminal complaint against the applicant. The case serves as a useful reminder of some general principles in an area of practice that can cause problems for the unwary.

New cause of action must arise out of substantially same facts that remain in issue at time of amendment
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 09 February 2021

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that pleadings which have previously been struck out cannot be used to introduce a new, limitation-barred claim that arises out of substantially the same set of facts as the struck out claim. Parties looking to discontinue a claim or defend a strike-out application should carefully consider the implications that a strike out could have on any future claims which they may want to introduce by amendment.

The jurisdiction eagle has landed… in court
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 02 February 2021

Does the governing law for passing-off claims fall under Article 6 or 8 of the EU Rome II Regulation? The High Court recently explored this question in a case concerning two well-known clothing brands. The court's decision remains relevant to English law in light of Brexit as the United Kingdom has legislated to incorporate Rome I and II into English law following the end of the transition period.

When is an error a serious irregularity? Court demonstrates approach to correcting arbitration awards
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 26 January 2021

The High Court recently found that a tribunal's admission of a simple computational error, and its refusal to correct it, was a serious irregularity that caused substantial injustice. Based on this, the court remitted an arbitration award back to the tribunal for correction. This is an interesting case; it is rare for Section 68 challenges to be successful and even rarer for an English court judge to find that there has been a serious irregularity that caused or would cause substantial injustice in such a straightforward manner.

Court considers claim to money in court once injunction discharged
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 26 January 2021

The High Court recently allowed a defendant's application for the release to him of a sum of money paid into court by the plaintiffs in order to fortify an asset freezing injunction that the plaintiffs had obtained against (among others) the defendant. The case reviews some interesting legal issues with regard to Quistclose trust claims in the context of payments into court. It also draws attention to the status of money paid into court for the purpose of fortifying an undertaking as to damages once that purpose becomes spent.

Phase 3 of court guidance for remote hearings for civil business
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 12 January 2021

A third guidance note on the use of remote hearings for civil proceedings took effect on 2 January 2021. The guidance note (representing Phase 3) provides for wider use of videoconferencing facilities and telephone hearings with respect to all levels of civil courts in Hong Kong. In particular, Phase 3 is more comprehensive and provides more options for connecting with the courts' videoconferencing facilities.

Case settlement conferences given a 'festive' touch
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 22 December 2020

The judiciary administration has updated the Guidance Note for Case Settlement Conferences in Civil Cases in the District Court. The guidance note extends a pilot scheme for facilitating settlement in general civil cases in the District Court and comes into effect on 2 January 2021. The updated version appears to address concerns relating to potential encroachments on parties' rights to legal representation and the protection afforded to the confidentiality of mediation and without prejudice communications.

Beware: High Court refuses permission to rely on new witness statement prepared part way through trial
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 22 December 2020

The High Court of England and Wales recently refused a claimant permission to rely on a witness statement of one its in-house lawyers, prepared during an ongoing trial, and call that witness to give oral evidence during the trial. The new witness's evidence produced during trial could not be relied on due to its inherent unreliability and the risk that it would be tailored to the state of the party's current case. Parties should always consider what evidence is required to support their case at an early stage.

QR served
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 22 December 2020

The High Court recently approved a novel order providing for service of various court documents on unnamed defendants by allowing the plaintiff to effect service by (among other means) using a quick response code. The proceedings arose out of protests at the airport in 2019 and, given the background to the case and the high-profile nature of the proceedings, the court was satisfied that service of the court documents should reasonably be expected to come to the attention of the defendants.

Late service of evidence requires relief from sanctions
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 15 December 2020

The High Court recently determined that an application to admit witness evidence outside the directions timetable should be treated like an application for relief from sanctions under Civil Procedure Rule 3.9. The decision suggests that the court may imply a sanction for policy reasons, even where there was no intention on the part of the rulemaker or judge to impose a sanction for a breach.

Latest court guidance on COVID-19 measures
RPC
  • Litigation
  • Hong Kong
  • 08 December 2020

Given the severity of the 'fourth wave' of COVID-19 which Hong Kong is currently experiencing, it became inevitable that the government would roll out tougher social distancing measures and that the courts would follow suit. On 1 December 2020 the judiciary issued its latest notification for stakeholders about the general arrangement of court and registries business. The courts and their registries very much remain open for business, but they are not dropping their guard.

Court of Appeal provides useful reminder of 'subject to contract' label meaning in settlement negotiations
RPC
  • Litigation
  • United Kingdom
  • 08 December 2020

A recent Court of Appeal decision determined that a Part 36 offer does not alter the status of 'subject to contract' protection in solicitors' correspondence when settling a dispute. This decision reassures lawyers that they can continue to conduct subject to contract negotiations on behalf of their clients without any undue risk of being bound by what is discussed. It is also a useful reminder of the consent order's significance in conclusively settling negotiations which are expressed to be subject to contract.