Practice Summary judgment. The Commercial Court dismissed the sixth defendant's application for summary judgment on its counterclaim for sums allegedly due from the claimants under a consultancy agreement. The sixth defendant had alleged that the claimants' acceptance of a CPR Pt36 offer of settlement in respect of the claimants' common design claim, alleging that the defendant former employees had set up a competing business, meant that the claimants had no reasonable prospect of successfully defending the counterclaim. The court held that on the true construction of offer letter, the defence put forward to the counterclaim had not been affected by the settlement of the common design claim.
Confidential information Disclosure. The Supreme Court, in allowing the taxpayers' appeal, held that disclosures relating to them, which had been made by the defendant Revenue and Customs Commissioners' then Permanent Secretary for Tax to journalists during an 'off the record' meeting, had not been justified under s18(2)(a) of the . The court held that s18(1) of the Act was intended to reflect the ordinary principle of taxpayer confidentiality and that, on its true construction, s 18(2)(a)(i) of the Act, interpreted narrowly, created an exception by permitting disclosure to the extent reasonably necessary for the Revenue to fulfil its primary function.
Divorce Financial provision. The Family Division held that a husband (H) who had successfully applied to set aside a consent order in divorce proceedings, on the grounds of the wife's (W) material non-disclosure, was entitled to 50% of his costs of that application, to be assessed on an indemnity basis. In the circumstances, both parties' conduct justified that award, which included a substantial discount on the grounds that no findings of fraud had been made against W; she had made a sensible offer to settle some two years before the matter concluded; and, in the course of proceedings, H had leaked confidential information about the case to the national press.
Passing off Goodwill. The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court dismissed a claim for passing off in which it was alleged that the defendants had been passing off conical measuring cups as the claimant's 'Tala' measuring cups by the adoption of a similar get-up. The court held that the claimant, George East Housewares Ltd, had not, by the relevant date, owned goodwill in its business associated with the get-up of its Tala measuring cups, excluding the brand name, such that cups bearing the get-up were distinctive of the claimant. Goodwill was not attached to the shape of the cups alone, as the claimant had contended.
Confidential information Misuse of confidential information. The Chancery Division held that the defendant companies, which were part of the Bakkavor group of companies, had misused information that was confidential to the claimant company, Kerry Ingredients (UK) Ltd, namely trade secrets concerning infused essential oils. An injunction was granted until June 2017.
Injunction Contract for personal services. The Queen's Bench Division held that interim relief would be granted in a case where the defendant advisers were alleged to have breached restrictive covenants contained in their consultancy agreements. Among other things, the claimants were entitled to undertakings which prevented disclosure of, and required delivery up of, the claimants' confidential customer lists, and the issues at the speedy trial were to include the question of whether the defendants had breached the covenants, as well as the question of their enforceability. However, the defendants were not, at that stage, required to provide witness statements setting out their recent conduct, and the court declined to grant the defendants' application to join a further 22 advisers as additional defendants to the claim.
Costs Offers to settle. The Queen's Bench Division awarded the claimant three-quarters of its costs of the action, on a standard basis, where the case had been stayed before the issues had been determined at trial following the claimant's application for interim relief. Among other things, that application had followed the defendant's disclosure of highly confidential documents belonging to the claimant, which the defendant had obtained from the Office of the Information Commissioner (ICO).
Employee Employment contract. The Queen's Bench Division held, among other things, that the defendant former directors and employees of, and shareholders in, the first claimant company had, to some extent, breached fiduciary duties owed to it and they had breached contractual duties owed under the terms of their employment agreements by assisting in setting up, and acquiring a beneficial interest in, a competing business (Vox).However, the evidence did not establish that the defendants had failed to dedicate proper time and attention to their work for the first claimant. Accordingly, the claimant was not entitled to salary payments received by the defendants from the claimant or Vox.
Negligence Professional person. The Queen's Bench Division dismissed the claimants' claims for breach of contract, negligence, breach of statutory duty and negligent misrepresentation against the defendant financial advisers. The claimants' investments had not been objectively unsuitable and, although the defendant had undertaken a binding obligation as a gesture of goodwill, that obligation had been performed.
Insolvency Administration order. The Companies Court held that an ex-administrator had standing to apply for an administration order, and that an administration order would be granted, where the ex-administrator's appointment had lapsed for several months due to an oversight. The court also made obiter comments that, in the circumstances, it would have declined to give retrospective effect to the administration order.