Covenant Breach. The first defendant, T, an insurance broker, was employed by the claimant company as the manager of a small new office. A meeting subsequently took place which led to T's resignation claiming constructive dismissal. T commenced employment with the second defendant company, the aim of which was for T to bring a substantial number of the claimant's ex-clients to the second defendant company, which he succeeded in doing. The claimant issued proceedings against T and the second defendant alleging breaches of covenant. The Queen's Bench Division held, amongst other things, that there had been no constructive dismissal, a restrictive covenant signed by T in favour of the claimant was enforceable and that the claimant would be entitled to damages for breach of covenant.
Contract Damages for breach. The Commercial Court considered an appeal arising out of the repudiation of a contract to sell wheat between the claimant sellers and the defendant buyers. The claimant had contended that measures taken by Ukranian customs had the effect of restricting the export of wheat and that, accordingly, the contract was cancelled and they were discharged from liability to perform by virtue of the prohibition clause. The GAFTA Board of Appeal had upheld the defendants' claim for damages for wrongful repudiation of the contract by the claimants, having found that there had been no actual restriction on exports per se. The claimant appealed. The Commercial Court, in dismissing the appeal, held that a seller did not have to show an outright ban on exports to come within the prohibition clause. Whether such circumstances could fall within the prohibition clause depended on the particular facts. The Board had been fully entitled to reject on the facts their case that the requirements of Ukranian Customs constituted an executive act within the meaning of the prohibition clause.
Restraint of trade by agreement Employer and employee. The defendant was employed by the claimant financial services company. He resigned and went to work for a competing company. The claimant commenced proceedings seeking to enforce a non-compete clause contained in the defendant's contract. The Queen's Bench Division dismissed the claim as the additional restraints of the non-compete clause would, if enforced, have prohibited the defendant from work in many parts of the financial services industry where, and in ways in which, it could not reasonably have been said that the claimant's legitimate interests would or might have been compromised.
Patent Infringement. The claimant owned the patent for a sighting telescope or zoom rifle scope. It contended that the defendant companies (together, Leica) had infringed its patent through their own sighting device. Leica contended that the patent was invalid and hence no infringement had occurred. The Patents Court held, among other things, that that the patent was not invalid for ambiguity or obviousness, and hence that Leica's challenged to the validity of the patent would fail. Its devices consequently infringed the patent.
Bank Nationalisation. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, upheld a decision that a valuer, appointed as the independent valuer of Northern Rock for the purposes of valuing its shares in order to compensate shareholders following nationalisation, had been correct in his valuation to assume, for the purposes of s5(4) of the that the bank had repaid all monies that had been lent to it by the Bank of England and that it had realised sufficient of its assets to enable that to have been done. The withdrawal assumption contained in s5(4)(a) of the Act was that, on the relevant date, the financial assistance had, for valuation purposes, been completely removed.
Health and safety at work Employer's duties. The Court of Appeal, Civil Division, dismissed the defendant Chief Constable's appeals on liability and costs in respect of a claim brought by a police officer who had been injured at work. The officer had been clearing a cannabis factory when she had cut her thumb attempting to open a window. The court held, inter alia, that the court below had not erred in concluding that the Personal Protective Equipment at Work Regulations 1992 had been engaged and found that there had been a duty to provide thick gloves to protect against a risk which had been more than de minimis.
*Futter and another v Revenue and Customs Commissioners; Pitt and another v Revenue and Customs Commissioners
Settlement Advancement. In two appeals concerning private trusts, the Supreme Court explained the rule in Hastings-Bass as it applied to fiduciaries and breaches of their duty. The Court also explained the rule for setting aside a voluntary disposition on the ground of mistake.
*BNY Corporate Trustee Services Ltd and others v Neuberger Berman Europe Ltd (on behalf of Sealink Funding Ltd) and others
Company Insolvency. The Supreme Court considered the interpretation of subsections 123(1) and (2) of the . A company, Eurosail, had experienced financial difficulties in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse, and the question arose as to whether it would be able to continue to pay its debts, or whether it would be considered 'balance-sheet' insolvent.
Copyright Infringement. The claimant, a professional photographer, brought a claim for infringement of copyright against the defendant for the alleged unlicensed use of a photograph taken by the claimant of American pop star, 'Ke$ha' and the group 'LMFAO'. A preliminary issue arose as to the level of damages likely to be awarded if the claim succeeded. The claimant contended that it would be more than 5,000 as so should be dealt with in the multi-track procedure of the Patents County Court (PCC) and not the small claims track. The PCC held that, given the renown of the artists and the exclusivity of access in respect of the photographs, the correct measure of damages was 5,682.37.
Criminal law Appeal. The defendant had been convicted with possessing a prohibited weapon contrary to s5(1)(b) of the and appealed against conviction, contending that the prosecution had not provided any evidence that the item in question was a weapon designed or adapted for the discharge of a noxious liquid, gas or other thing. The Court of Appeal, Criminal Division, in dismissing the appeal held that the thrust of the offence had been the design and capability of the item. Evidence had been given at the trial that weapons of the type of design as the item were capable of discharging 50,000 volts of electricity and it was that design and capability of the item which sufficed for the offence to have been committed.