The Coronavirus outbreak may result in an upsurge of force majeure-related claims under commercial contracts. A further risk now coming to light is customers seeking to enforce contractual fines, penalties, service credits or liquidated damages in connection with supplier failure or delays arising from coronavirus-related issues. As such, a reminder of the law in this area now also feels appropriate.
In 2018 the Court of Appeal rejected a stockbrocker's appeal against the High Court's decision that it owed a client a Quincecare duty. In a recent ruling, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal's decision. The client's Quincecare claim was held not to have been defeated by illegality as, in the circumstances, the fraud of a sole shareholder of a company should not be attributed to the company itself.
In November 2019, in the looming shadow of the collapse of Thomas Cook Group plc, the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee published a letter of recommendations to Secretary of State for the Department of BEIS Andrea Leadsom. The letter follows BEIS's inquiry into the collapse of Thomas Cook and the factors that led to the global travel group's downfall and covers a range of recommendations relating to corporate governance, audit reform and executive pay and bonuses.
A series of recent cases have examined the circumstances in which a dividend can be challenged on the basis that it has been unlawfully paid. In one such case, the High Court considered a number of key principles regarding dividend payments and the circumstances in which directors can be pursued for dividends paid prior to an insolvency. This judgment provides some comfort to directors who rely on professional advisers to determine whether to declare a dividend payment.
The draft Companies (Directors' Remuneration Policy and Directors' Remuneration Report) Regulations 2019 were recently published as part of the drive to encourage long-term shareholder engagement and to strengthen the governance and performance of traded companies. Most of the directors' remuneration reporting requirements inserted by the EU Shareholder Rights Directive II already apply under UK law and the draft regulations will implement most of the requirements that do not currently apply.