Practice Summary judgment. The Queen's Bench Division, in dismissing the defendant company's appeal against the granting of summary judgment in favour of the claimant company in relation to sums due under a contract relating to the cost control of energy and water supplies, held that, on the facts, the judge had been right to find that the defendant had had no defence which had a real prospect of success.
Negligence Duty to take care. The claimant executrixes of the estate of a man who died of malignant mesothelioma issued proceedings against his employer in the 1960s and 1970s. They alleged negligence in respect of exposure to asbestos in course of deceased's employment. The Queen's Bench Division held that, even by the standards of the times, the employer had negligently failed to comply with its duty of care.
Disclosure and inspection of documents Production of documents. The Chancery Division dismissed the defendants' application for specific disclosure made during the trial as it was not necessary or in the interests of fairness to interfere with the smooth course of the trial by ordering disclosure during the trial itself.
Claim form Service. The Commercial Court considered an application by the second defendant company to set aside an order granting an extension of time to allow the claimant company to serve proceedings on it. The court held that, given the claimant's failure to provide a proper explanation for its failure to serve proceedings on the second defendant within the time limits, the order would be set aside.
Practice Family proceedings. The Family Division dismissed a mother's appeal against the variation of a consent order, rejecting the mother's arguments both in respect of an apparent shortfall in school fees and in respect of costs.
Statutory duty Breach. The claimant scaffolder brought a claim against the defendant employer for injuries and losses sustained in a fall from scaffolding erected by the claimant. The Queen's Bench Division held that the defendant employer had plainly failed in its common law duty to provide the claimant scaffolder with adequate training and its duty to ensure that the claimant had remained competent to engage in the organisation, planning and erection of scaffolding. However, as to contributory negligence, the claimant could properly be required to bear the greater responsibility for the accident and his responsibility would be assessed at 60%.
Pleading Amendment. The master allowed the claimants to amend their particulars of claim to plead negligence against the defendants with permission for the defendants to apply to set aside the order. The defendants sought to set aside the order on the ground that the amendments had raised fresh claims which were already statute-barred. The Queen's Bench Division held that the claimants had not acquired the required knowledge of the defendants' negligence until a judgment of the Chancery Division in separate proceedings and, accordingly, the amendments were not statute-barred.
Medical practitioner Negligence. The claimant commenced proceedings against the defendant NHS Trust in respect of the negligence of its surgeons. The NHS Trust contended the claim was statute-barred. The Queen's Bench Division held that the essence of the claim was not known until a further procedure had been carried out by another surgeon and that her claim was, accordingly, not statute-barred.
Costs Order for costs. The Chancery Division considered applications by the claimant company for third party costs order against the fourth and fifth defendant companies and the cross-examination of further witnesses. The court held that there was, on the facts, no requirement to allow the applications, and that it was appropriate for the case to progress on the basis of the material already before the court.
Practice Pre-trial or post-judgment relief. Three corporate defendants, companies registered under English law, sought to set aside a freezing order granted against them in respect of arbitration proceedings brought by the claimant Ukrainian bank, against M, the President of the bank in which it alleged the breach of an agreement under which M was to sell a major stake in the bank to another major shareholder. The bank, whilst not asserting a cause of action against the corporate defendants, contended that they were effectively nominees for M, who had exercised substantial control over them and that their assets were in truth the assets of M. The bank claimed relief against the corporate defendants under the jurisdiction recognised in T.S.B Private Bank International SA v Chabra[ (the Chabra jurisdiction). A central issue was whether there was good reason to suppose that M was the ultimate beneficial owner of a company (Carlsbad), which was a major shareholder of a company in which the corporate defendants had a shareholding. The Commercial Court, in dismissing the application to set aside the freezing order, considered the principles to be applied in respect of the Chabra jurisdiction. On the totality of the evidence, there was good reason to suppose that Carlsbad was and remained a company owned and substantially controlled by M.