The Supreme Court recently clarified the scope of shareholders' rights under the Civil Code with regard to (non-binding) voting items on general meeting agendas. Under Dutch corporate law, shareholders have the right to request the board of directors of a public or private limited company to put an item on the agenda of a shareholders' meeting if the threshold and timing requirements are met. Such requests may be refused by the board of directors only in exceptional circumstances.
In a recent dispute about the existence of a contract, the High Court found that the parties intended to be bound only when all parties had signed. An open-ended duty to negotiate in good faith was void for uncertainty and the claim was struck out. This case is a useful reminder of several principles, including that an obligation to negotiate in good faith must be tightly drafted and time limited in order to be effective.
A recent landmark judgment of the Court of Final Appeal confirms that in deciding whether it is fair and just to grant a protective costs order in public interest litigation, the courts should be apprised of an applicant's financial position. In the case of a corporate applicant, it is proper to inquire not only into the assets belonging to the company, but also other sources of funding to which it has access. The case is the first in Hong Kong in which the courts have extensively set out the relevant legal principles in this regard.
In a recent case filed in its admiralty jurisdiction, the Supreme Court of Cyprus had to consider whether accidents which take place in the Cyprus exclusive economic zone (EEZ) give jurisdiction to the Cyprus courts. The court decided that it has jurisdiction to hear disputes regarding accidents which occur within its territory, including the Cyprus EEZ, provided that the accident concerns the prospection or exploitation of Cyprus's natural resources.
In Nord Anglia the justice made directions orders regarding the use of keyword searches, the number and scope of information requests, and the conduct of management meetings consistent with the orders made in Xiadu Life Technology. Further, the judgment will provide welcome safeguards for companies facing appraisal litigation in the Cayman Islands if adopted on a wider basis.
The Luxembourg Administrative Court of Appeal and the European Court of Justice (on referral for a preliminary ruling) recently considered whether the Luxembourg law on the procedure applicable to the exchange of information on request in tax matters complied with EU Directive 2011/16/EU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. In particular, the courts examined whether the Luxembourg law complied with the right to an effective remedy set out in the EU directive and the charter.
According to a new Federal Supreme Court decision, securing an advantageous place of jurisdiction in Switzerland (so-called 'forum running') in an international dispute is of sufficient interest for an action seeking a negative declaratory judgment. This new precedent enables parties domiciled in Switzerland to anticipate foreign proceedings initiated by a counterparty by filing an action for a negative declaratory judgment to drag the case before a court in Switzerland.
Judicial review is a public law remedy – but does this preclude its availability for decisions made by private entities (eg, voluntary associations and political parties)? Divergent lines of judicial authority have led to inconsistent answers to this question in Ontario. However, a recent Ontario Divisional Court decision has confirmed that the answer to this question is yes.
A recent BVI Court of Appeal judgment was issued on a point rarely taken: is leave required to file a counter notice to an existing appeal? The full court found that once an appeal has been commenced with leave, the court's jurisdiction is engaged and the party wishing to cross-appeal may do so by counter notice without bringing a separate leave application. The court described a counter notice as being by its nature "parasitical on a pending appeal".
Appeals to the Privy Council from the Court of Appeal are regulated in the Cayman Islands (Appeals to Privy Council) Order 1984. However, the order does not provide for how to determine the date of a decision. The Court of Appeal recently ruled that for the purposes of an application for leave to appeal to the Privy Council, time runs from the date on which an order is sealed or perfected, not the date on which the judgment is delivered.
The principal way in which managers can protect themselves from liability is by obtaining a grant of discharge from shareholders. The Court of Appeal recently stated that although discharge is voted on at a general shareholders' meeting after the adoption of the company's annual accounts, the mere approval of the accounts does not automatically entail discharge. Rather, the court made clear that a decision to discharge a management body must be subject to a separate deliberation.
Following a recent Luxembourg District Court decision concerning the conditions for the enforcement of a pledge, collaterals consisting in a pledge on the shares of a company can be enforced even outside of a default payment (ie, even if the secured debt is not due and payable). In the case at hand, the pledge agreement provided that the pledge was enforceable in case of non-compliance with a binding financial ratio.
A recent Supreme Court decision is now the leading case on negotiating damages. It has emphasised the compensatory basis of contractual damages and restricted negotiating damages to cases where the obligation breached by the defendant protected an asset with economic value. While the decision offers welcome clarity, it leaves some important questions unanswered.
In a recent case, a petition to wind up a company was issued by its majority shareholder. The minority shareholder – a Samoan entity – issued an application to stay the petition on the basis that there were related proceedings in Samoa, and argued that Samoa was the proper forum in which to argue these matters. The court refused to grant the stay, finding that the high burden imposed in stay applications of this type had not been met.
The High Court recently dismissed proceedings seeking to compel the Hospital Authority to disclose confidential patient records in connection with professional disciplinary proceedings. The decision serves as a good reminder of the tension that exists between the competing interests of preserving client (or patient) privacy rights and the necessity and public interest in the proper administration of professional disciplinary proceedings.
The Grand Court of the Cayman Islands has set aside service of proceedings against a foreign defendant, concluding that the plaintiff had abused the court process in pursuing the proceedings and failed to establish that the court should exercise its jurisdiction over the defendant. The court held that the defendant's immunity as the employee of a New Zealand crown entity was an "unplayable delivery" for the plaintiff and weighed heavily against the exercise of the court's exorbitant jurisdiction.
In a recent case, the Supreme Court considered the application of Section 21(1)(b) of the Limitation Act 1980 with respect to claims against the directors of a company for an unlawful distribution of the shareholding. The court acknowledged that Section 21 was primarily aimed at express trustees, and that it was found to be applicable to company directors "by what may fairly be described as a process of analogy".
Order 22 of the Civil Procedure Rules provides that in any action for debt or damages, the defendant may at any time, on notice to the claimant, pay into court a sum of money which it considers sufficient to satisfy the claim. Payment into court can be made as soon as an appearance has been filed and until a judgment has been issued. If the amount offered is accepted, the dispute is settled as by compromise, but it does not give rise to res judicata.
A recent Court of Appeal decision serves as a useful reminder to keep an eye on the clock when seeking the appointment of liquidators to a company in the British Virgin Islands. The decision makes clear that any extension must be expressly granted and legal practitioners must therefore keep an eye on the clock to avoid a deemed dismissal under Section 168 of the Insolvency Act.
An employer that terminated an employee alleging just cause has been ordered to pay damages for wrongful dismissal, including an aggravated damages award of C$75,000. The court was satisfied that the employer's actions amounted to a breach of the obligation of good faith and fair dealing, and supported an award of aggravated damages. The employer's false reasons for dismissal and inadequate and unfair investigation had resulted in the plaintiff failing to receive procedural fairness.