Welcome to the fourth edition of our quarterly disputes newsletter, which covers key developments in the dispute resolution sphere over the last three months or so.
A number of Covid-19 related cases are finally trickling through the system and reaching final judgment, as detailed in the "Cases" section below. At the start of the pandemic, some commentators considered that the English courts might begin to take a somewhat more creative or flexible approach to issues of contractual construction, implication of terms and frustration, in order to ensure "fairer" outcomes for contractual counterparties affected by the pandemic than the usual "winner takes all" approach. However, a clear pattern is emerging to the effect that it is business as usual in the English courts, and that some of the more creative arguments being put forward in Covid-19 related disputes are failing to find favour with judges.
On the Brexit front, practitioners continue to wait with bated breath for news of whether the UK will be permitted to join the Lugano Convention, ensuring that it is once again part of a consistent, pan-European regime for allocation of jurisdiction over cross-border civil and commercial disputes and for the recognition and enforcement of the judgments to which those disputes give rise. We have also seen continued, concerted efforts to demonstrate that England and Wales remains an attractive destination for the resolution of international disputes, with the Master of the Rolls setting out some truly innovative proposals for a more efficient, online justice system which harnesses the power of technology, and the UK Jurisdiction Taskforce publishing its innovative new Digital Dispute Resolution Rules.
In the meantime, the appeal courts in this jurisdiction have had a busy few months, handing down interesting judgments on matters as diverse as when illegally obtained evidence (in this case hacked emails) should be excluded from consideration by the courts, the extent to which executives' personal devices can be searched for the purposes of a disclosure exercise and the circumstances in which parent company liability may arise in this jurisdiction for corporations operating in emerging markets, or whose business pose particular operational hazards. We also have a recent Supreme Court decision on limitation and the age-old peril of waiting until the last possible moment to issue a claim form.
We hope that you continue to enjoy reading this round-up, whether a litigator by trade or a generalist, and whether in-house or in private practice, and that you will share it with any of your colleagues who may also find it useful. We also hope that you are all keeping well as the City starts to open up again, and stay safe.