LIABILITY FOR NEGLIGENT OMISSION

May 23rd, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

GREAT LAKES REINSURANCE v RAV ( 2024 ) UKPC 11 revisits when there is a duty of care in the tort of negligence with respect to an omission to confer a benefit. Restrictive principles going beyond foreseeability and proximity must be applied : para 20. One of the recognized exceptional principles must be established : para 21. Liability may be based on a relevant ASSUMPTION OF RESPONSIBILITY, referring to N v POOLE BOROUGH COUNCIL ( 2020 ) AC 780, and to HXA v SURREY COUNTY COUNCIL, YXA v WOLVERHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL ( 2024 ) 1 WLR 335, where claims for failing to protect children from abuse were struck out for lack of any assumption of responsibility.

 

VICARIOUS LIABILITY

May 10th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In SHAMSAN v LOWNDES SQUARE MANAGEMENT COMPANY ( 2024 ) EWCA Civ 436 it was Lowndes’ contractual responsibility to engage managing agents for a building, and they would provide appropriate services. It was NOT Lowndes’ contractual responsibility to provide those services itself.

The managing agents were independent contractors. They could not be liable for negligence by the managing agents. Recent developments in the law of VICARIOUS LIABILITY do NOT undermine the distinction between liability for the acts of an employee and non-liability for acts of an independent contractor.

 

PRIVATE NUISANCE LIABILTY

May 8th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

DAVIES v BRIDGEND COUNTY BOROUGH COUNCIL ( 2024 ) UKSC 15 concerns liability for private nuisance by undue interference with the enjoyment or use of another person’s land. The nuisance arose from the encroachment of JAPANESE KNOTWEED. The dates are important. Mr Davies bought his land in 2004. By then the knotweed had spread on to that land from land owned by the Council. That however was not at that time an actionable nuisance. That did not occur until 2013. That was when the Council became aware, or ought to have become aware, of the risk of damage to Mr Davies’ land. Information became available about knotweed. The Council’s fault was that between 2013 and 2018 it failed to implement a reasonable and effective treatment programme. That was not done until 2018. The question was whether the Council was liable for diminution in the value of Mr Davies’ land during that period. The Supreme Court, allowing the Council’s appeal from ( 2023 ) EWCA Civ 80, ruled that the Council had no damages liability. This was on the basis of lack of causation. The Council’s breach of duty between 2013 and 2018 had not increased or materially contributed to the diminution in value. That had occurred before any breach by the Council arose in 2013. The subsequent breach was not a causative factor. There was no causal link between the breach of duty and the diminution in value claimed.

 

FRESH EVIDENCE

May 8th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In TAYTIME LTD v SoS ( 2024 ) EWHC 1053 ( Admin ) Lang J summarises, at paras 55-59 inc, when fresh evidence will be admissible in a judicial or statutory review. Generally the Court does not consider evidence that was not before the decision-maker. Fresh evidence will be admitted only in limited circumstances. These are ( 1 ) to show what material was before the decision-maker, ( 2 ) to demonstrate a jurisdictional fact or procedural error or misconduct by the decision-maker, ( 3 ) where the interests of justice require it, ( 4 ) where there is a legal challenge on the grounds that the decision-maker failed to investigate adequately and the evidence would demonstrate what would have been discovered if due enquiry had been made, or (5) in the consideration of remedy.

 

LIABILITY of AUTHORITIES and INDIVIDUALS

May 7th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

Part 8 of the Equality Act 2010 ( Sections 108-112 inclusive ) contains ancillary provisions about liability of employers and principals ( Section 109 ) and liabilities of employees and agents ( Section 110 ). In BALDWIN v CLEVES SCHOOOL ( 2024 ) EAT 66 the School was held liable under Section 209, and it is held that if the conditions for individual liability on the part of an individual employee or agent as set out in Section 110 are satisfied then a contravention of Section 110 must be found. There is no discretion.

 

WHISTLEBLOWING LIABILITY

March 26th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

According to the structure of the whistleblowing legislation, in order for employers to be fixed with liability, B ought to have some knowledge of what the claimant is complaining or expressing concern about. It is not enough that B knows that the claimant has made a claim to A. So observes Sheldon J in Nicol v World Travel, EA-2023-000036-JOJ.

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT COOPERATION : FREE FLOW OF DATA

March 18th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

The free flow of data between the UK and the EU of course remains vital not only for effective law enforcement cooperation but also for trade and economic relations. Notwithstanding partial Brexit, currently the transfer of criminal investigation and commercial data is based on an EU adequacy decision, the UK GDPR, the EU Law Enforcement Directive, and the EU Commission’s processes. However, the adequacy direction expires next year, and there may be a divergence between the EU and UK data protection regimes. The House of Lords European Affairs Committee, chaired by Lord Ricketts, has launched an Inquiry into EU-UK data adequacy possible challenges to the adequacy regime, the factors that will influence a future  EU adequacy decision, and the implications should that decision be negative. Written evidence is sought by 3rd May, and there will be public evidence sessions over the next 3 months, with a view to a Report by July 2024.

 

LIMITATION

March 15th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

When does time start to run for limitation purposes on interest on costs where the order is for costs to be assessed? Not until the costs are assessed and become due, payable and enforceable, say the Court of Appeal in DEUTSCHE BANK v SEBASTIAN HOLDINGS ( 2024 ) EWCA Civ 245.

 

PROCEDURAL CHANGES

March 15th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

There is a well-established general presumption that changes to procedure apply not only to future proceedings but also to pending proceedings. This is because a procedural change is expected to improve matters and support the better administration of justice. Alterations in the form of procedure are always retrospective, unless there is some good reason or other why they should not be. A litigant has no right to complain that procedure is changed during the course of litigation unless it causes unfairness or injustice.

How fairness determines such retrospective application depends on several factors. These include the value of any rights which the new rule affects and the extent to which that value is diminished or extinguished. Light may be shed by consideration of the circumstances in which the legislation was enacted.

The essential question in MELKI v BOUYGUES ( 2024 ) EAT 36, at paras 25-29 inclusive, was whether changes to the Employment Appeal Tribunal Rules applying to pending proceedings was so unfair that the that the words used in the statutory instrument cannot have been intended to mean what they might appear to say. That was simply that the new Rules came into force on a specified date, without any transitional provision. The Rules had been amended to improve the fairness and justice of consideration of incomplete Notices of Appeal. The previous Rules were amended as they were too rigid in cases of minor errors and led to potential unfairness. The new Rule was proposed to draw a better balance between parties.

Whether it be the EAT Rules or the CPR Rules, Rules change from time to time. Unless a transitional provision is included stating the opposite , or unless there is more than modest unfairness to the respondent, the new provision applies to all litigation from the date it is expressed to come into force. There is no absurdity about the test being different before and after that date.

 

MANDATORY ORDER

March 8th, 2024 by James Goudie KC in Judicial Control, Liability and Litigation

In R ( HXN ) v Redbridge LBC ( 2024 ) EWHC 443 ( Admin ) the Administrative Court ruled that Section 42(2) & (6) in Part 3 of the Children and Families Act 2014 a duty on local authorities that maintained an Educational, Health and Care Plan ( EHCP ) to ENSURE that a child was provided with the special education provision specified in the EHCP. It is an ABSOLUTE and NON-DELEGABLE duty. There is no “ best endeavours “ defence. A MANDATORY ORDER may be made to enforce the authority’s performance of its statutory duty and bring its breach of duty to an end. The principles in R ( Imam ) v Croydon LBC ( 2023 ) UKSC 48, relating to an authority’s duty under housing legislation, applied 9 ( para 93 ).