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Supreme courts roundup, 13 December 2019 to 23 January 2020

23 January 2020

Decisions, proceedings and news from the highest courts in some common law jurisdictions in the last week are as follows:

Supreme Court of New Zealand

Schmuck v Opua Coastal Preservation [2019] NZSC 155 (23 December 2019) Costs decision following a successful appeal from the Court of Appeal.

First respondent ordered to pay costs to the appellant.

Reekie v Claimants A & B [2019] NZSC 154 (23 December 2019). Successful application for recall only to make corrections noted.

Reekie v Claimants A & B [2019] NZSC 127 (18 November 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal from a judgment of the Court of Appeal.

The appellant had unsuccessfully sought an extension of time to file his case on appeal to enable him to meet with claimant A to try to settle his claim – Whether an extension of time should have been granted – Whether the proposed appeal raised any questions of general or public importance.

Harjit Dheil v R [2019] NNSC 153 (20 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal against a decision of the Court of Appeal.

The Court of Appeal refused the applicants appeal against conviction and sentence on charges of blackmail after a DC jury trial – The applicant had threatened the victim that a woman would be paid to make a complaint against him of sexual misconduct unless he withdrew an employment complaint against the applicant’s company – A recording was ruled as admissible at trial – The applicant argued that the trial judge failed to provide a hearsay direction in relation to the recording and failed to identify the limitations of the evidence – Whether a miscarriage of justice arose from the absence of direction.

Lundy v R [2019] NZSC 152 (20 December 2019).Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal.

Mark Lundy was first convicted of the murders of his wife and daughter in March 2002 - His appeal against conviction to the Court of Appeal was dismissed in 2002 - However, following a further appeal to the Privy Council in 2013 his convictions were set aside and a retrial was ordered - The retrial was held in early 2015 - Mr Lundy was again convicted of both murders – Following his retrial Mr Lundy appealed against his conviction on the ground that scientific evidence relating to messenger RNA analysis (mRNA) relied on by the Crown should not have been admitted - Despite concluding that the mRNA evidence should not have been admitted at Mr Lundy’s retrial, the Court of Appeal applied the proviso to s 385(1) and dismissed Mr Lundy’s appeal - Whether the Court of Appeal erred in applying the proviso to s 385(1) of the Crimes Act - R v Matenga [2009] NZSC 18, [2009] 3 NZLR 145.

Tranter v Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections [2019] NZSC 151 (19 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal.

The applicant sought leave to appeal against a decision directing the Registrar of the Court of Appeal not to accept the applicant’s notice of appeal on the basis that “it was not a a proper application for habeas corpus but a further attempt to use the procedure for a purpose for which it was not designed” - The application for habeas corpus was misconceived and fell foul of s 15 of the Habeas Corpus Act.

Kenny v MBIE [2019] NZSC 150 (19 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal

The applicant unsuccessfully sought a declaration to the effect that he is not a motor vehicle trader under the Motor Vehicle Sales Act 2003 and so did not have to meet the regulatory requirements for a motor vehicle trader – Both the HC and the Court of Appeal found that the applicant came within the definition in s 8(1)(b) - Section 9 sets out circumstances in which a person “is not treated as carrying on the business of motor vehicle trading” – Whether the Court of Appeal’s interpretation of s 9 was incorrect and that the Court has not correctly factored in the definition of “finance company” in the Act – Whether the arguments had sufficient prospect of success to justify a further appeal.

Xiaoming He v Earthquake Commission [2019] NZSC 149 (19 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal.

The applicant’s property (a house with a shop attached) was covered for natural disaster damage under the Earthquake Commission Act 1993 (the EQC Act) at the time of the 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes - The property was also insured with the second respondents (collectively, OMPL1 ) in respect of certain earthquake damage not covered by the EQC – The applicant unsuccessfully argued that the earthquakes had caused damages to the floor levels of his home – Whether the Courts below erred in relation to the issue of dislevelment.

Houghton v Saunders [2019] NZSC 148 (13 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal from a decision of the Court of Appeal.

The applicant commenced proceedings on a representative basis against the respondents claiming for losses said to have been sustained as a result of untrue statements in an offer document relating to the initial public offering of shares in Feltex Carpets Ltd (Feltex) – The applicant appealed two interlocutory decisions relating to a stage 2 trial, the admissibility of certain expert evidence that the  applicant wished to adduce as to the quantum of loss suffered by the investors and a decision upholding a HC refusal to strike out the respondent’s defence relying on s 63 of the Securities Act – Whether either issue provides a sound basis for the grant of leave to appeal.

Sealegs International Ltd v Yun Zhang [2019] NZSC 147 (5 December 2019). Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal.

Sealegs manufactures amphibious systems for installation on power boat, with wheels on supporting mechanical legs that enable the boat to be driven from the beach into the water – Sealeg claims that the amphibious system developed by the second respondent infringed Sealegs’ copyright – Sealegs succeeded in the HC, but the Court of appeal allowed an appeal – Sealegs submitted that the Court of Appeal did not apply the law as set out in the Oraka Technologies Ltd v Geostel Vision Ltd [2013] NZCA 111 and Steelbro NZ Ltd v Tidd Ross Todd Ltd [2007] NZCA 486 cases – Whether the cases raises an issue of general or public importance.

Greenbaum v Southern Cross Hospitals [2019] 146 (13 December 2019).  Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal.

The applicant is plastic surgeon accredited to practice in the UK and Europe – He worked for the Waikato DHB (DHB) – Following a dispute with the DHB and following mediation, there was a settlement which allowed the applicant to remain employed with the DHB until he obtained vocational registration – After obtaining vocational registration the applicant unsuccessfully applied to four private hospitals to be credentialled – The applicant claimed that this was because the DHB and his former chief medical officer , Dr Watson, had spread misinformation about him – The applicant unsuccessfully applied for third party discovery seeking comparative material and evaluative material – Southern Cross’ opposition to the non-part discovery was based on s69 of the Evidence Act 2006 – The applicant sought only evaluative material in relation to the current application – Whether the case raised any issue of principle in relation to s 69, which is clear in its terms, albeit that it requires a court to undertake a difficult exercise of balancing different public interests and determining the appropriate outcome.

Savvy Vineyards 4332 Ltd v Weta Estate Ltd [2019] NZSC 145 (12 December 2019). Successful application for leave to appeal.

The applicants (Savvy) are winemakers and the respondents (Weta) are grape growers - The parties entered into various inter-related agreements for the development, management and long-term supply of the grapes produced on Weta’s land - The grape supply agreements gave Savvy an option to purchase the entire crop of grapes from each of Weta’s blocks of land - If Savvy exercised the option in relation to any block, Savvy had to purchase all of the grapes for the term of the agreement - The commencement date for this agreement was 1 May 2009 - Savvy did not exercise the option at that time - There was also an option which was exercisable three years after that date - Savvy did not exercise this option either because at the time Weta had purported to cancel the contract and there was ongoing litigation - The parties agreed to extend this option to 1 May 2013 - There was also an option that could be exercised three years later, after the 2012 date, on 1 May 2015 - The agreement provided it would lapse if two consecutive options were declined - In Weta Estate Ltd v Savvy Vineyards 4334 Ltd [2019] NZCA 437 whether the Court of Appeal was correct as to: (a) the effect on the parties’ legal positions of the two earlier judgments, Kakara Estate Ltd v Savvy Vineyards 3552 Ltd [2013] NZCA 101, [2013] 3 NZLR 297, dealing with whether the contract had been terminated; and (b) the interpretation of cl 2.2 and cl 2.4.

Nottingham v R [2019] NZSC 144 (12 December 2019).Successful application for extension of time. Unsuccessful application for leave to appeal.

The applicant was convicted following a jury trial on charges of publishing information in breach of suppression orders and five charges of criminal harassment and sentenced to 12 months home detention and 100 hours of community work – He unsuccessfully appealed against conviction and sentence – The court allowed the Solicitor-General’s appeal against sentence, quashing the part-served sentence and imposing a new 12 month home detention and 100 hours of community work – The suppression orders concerned orders for permanent name suppression made in relation to the two young men charged with assaulting Stephen Dudley – The criminal harassment charges related to publications about five complainants who had each crossed paths with Mr Nottingham in some way – Whether any matter advanced by the applicant gave rise to any appearance of a miscarriage of justice.

Brougham v Trustees of the Winchester Trust [2019] NZSC 143 (12 December 2019).Successful application for an extension of time for leave to appeal. Leave to appeal granted.

Whether the Court of Appeal was right to allow the appeal to that Court - Regan v Brougham [2019] NZCA 401.

High Court of Australia


De Silva v R [2019] HCA 48
(13 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeal from the Supreme Court of Queensland.

The appellant was arraigned in the District Court of Queensland on an indictment that charged him with two counts of rape – The appellant was convicted by jury of rape – The appellant did not give sworn evidence at trial – The appellant made exculpatory statements in a recorded police interview – The record of the  interview was admitted into evidence – Liberato v The Queen [1985] HCA 66 - The appellant did not seek Liberato direction at trial – The trial judge did not give a Liberato direction – Whether a Liberato direction is required where the accused does not give sworn evidence – Whether a Liberato direction is required where a record of interview containing exculpatory statements is admitted into evidence.

Boensch v Pascoe [2019] HCA 49 (13 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeal from the Federal Court of Australia.

"The property of the bankrupt" was vested in the trustee in bankruptcy pursuant to s 58 of Bankruptcy Act 1966(Cth) – The bankrupt held estate in land under Torrens system on trust – Whether the property held by bankrupt on trust capable of vesting in trustee in bankruptcy – Whether bankrupt had a valid beneficial interest – Whether estate vested in trustee in bankruptcy in equity - The trustee in bankruptcy lodged caveat claiming "Legal Interest pursuant to the Bankruptcy Act 1966" and refused or failed to withdraw caveat after request – Whether caveator liable to pay compensation under s 74P(1) of the Real Property Act 1900 (NSW) for lodging and maintaining caveat "without reasonable cause" – Whether existence of caveatable interest or honest belief on reasonable grounds in such interest sufficient for "reasonable cause" – Whether claimant established that caveator had neither caveatable interest in property nor honest belief on reasonable grounds in having such interest – Whether possibility of trust being set aside under s 120 or s 121 of Bankruptcy Act conferred caveatable interest – Whether caveat adequately described equitable estate in fee simple – Whether deficiency in statement of interest demonstrated absence of "reasonable cause" - The trustee incurred significant expenses in his capacity as trustee ordinarily entitling him to be indemnified out of trust property – The trustee asserted "mutually beneficial arrangement" with "the trust" – Whether asserted arrangement prejudiced trustee's right of indemnity wholly or in part – Whether value of benefits to trustee under asserted arrangement equal to or exceeded total of trust expenses incurred.

CNY17 v Minister for Immigration and Border Protection [2019] HCA 50  (13 December 2019). Successful appeal from the Federal Court of Australia.

Pt 7AA of the Migration Act 1958(Cth) requires Immigration Assessment Authority (IAA) to review certain decisions to refuse applications for protection visas – Section 473CB(1)(a), (b) and (d) requires the Secretary of Department to give certain material to IAA to conduct review – Section 473CB(1)(c) requires Secretary to give to IAA any other material Secretary considers relevant to review – Section 473DB requires IAA to review decision by considering material given by Secretary – The Secretary gave material to IAA pursuant to s 473CB(1)(c) – Where material irrelevant to task of IAA – Where material prejudicial to applicant – Whether jurisdictional error by Secretary – Whether jurisdictional error invalidated decision of IAA – Whether apprehended bias.

Supreme Court of Canada

Reference re Environmental Management Act [2020] SCC 1 (16 January 2020). Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.

Canada Post Corp v Canadian Union of Postal Worker [2019] SCC 67 (20 December 2019). Successful appeal (majority) from the Federal Court of Appeal.

Following a complaint and subsequent investigation, a health and safety officer found Canada Post Corporation, as a federally‑regulated employer, in contravention of certain health and safety obligations set out in Part II of the Canada Labour Code – The appeals officer concluded that the employer’s work place inspection obligation applies only to parts of work place over which employer has control and rescinded contravention — Whether appeals officer’s interpretation of work place inspection obligation was reasonable — Framework for determining applicable standard of review and conducting reasonableness review set out in Vavilov applied — Canada Labour Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. L‑2, s. 125(1).

Canada (A-G) v British Columbia Investment Management Corp [2019] SCC 63 (13 December 2019) Unsuccessful appeal and cross appeal (majority) from the Court of Appeal for British Columbia.

The Provincial Crown corporation was created by legislature to provide investment management services to province’s public sector pension plans and other Crown entities — Whether provincial Crown corporation was required to collect and remit federal GST on costs it incurs in making investments in pooled investment portfolios — Whether provincial Crown corporation entitled to constitutional immunity from taxation — Constitution Act, 1867, s. 125 — Excise Tax Act, R.S.C. 1985, c. E-15 , Part IX.

Bell Canada v Canada (A-G) [2019] SCC 66 (19 December 2019).Successful appeals (majority) from the Federal Court of Appeal.

For more than 40 years, the NFL’s Super Bowl game, which is played in the United States, had been broadcast in Canada in accordance with the “simultaneous substitution” regime - This regime, set out in various regulations made under the Broadcasting Act, allows for a television service provider to temporarily delete and replace the entire signal of a distant (usually national or international) television station with the signal of another (usually local) television station that is airing the same programme at the same time – The CRTC decided that simultaneous substitution regime does not apply to Super Bowl broadcast — Canadians therefore were able to view American commercials aired during Super Bowl — Whether CRTC had authority to prohibit simultaneous substitution for Super Bowl — Framework for determining applicable standard of review set out in Vavilov applied —Broadcasting Act, S.C. 1991, c. 11, s.9(1).

Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration) v Vavilov [2019] SCC 65 (19 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeal from the Federal Court of Appeal.

V was born in Toronto in 1994 - At the time of his birth, his parents were posing as Canadians under assumed names - They were foreign nationals working on assignment for the Russian foreign intelligence service - V did not know that his parents were not who they claimed to be and he believed that he was a Canadian citizen by birth and he held a Canadian passport - In 2010, V’s parents were arrested in the United States and charged with espionage - They pled guilty and were returned to Russia - Following their arrest, V’s attempts to renew his Canadian passport proved unsuccessful, however, in 2013, he was issued a certificate of Canadian citizenship - Then, in 2014, the Canadian Registrar of Citizenship cancelled V’s certificate on the basis of her interpretation of s. 3(2) (a) of the Citizenship Act – The exception stated that a Canadian-born child is not citizen if either parent was representative or employee in Canada of foreign government at time of child’s birth - Whether the Registrar’s decision to cancel certificate of citizenship was reasonable.

R v Collin [2019] SCC 64 (13 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

The SC considered the trial judge made an error of law as regards the applicable test in his analysis of causation – The Court of Appeal was correct that a conviction must be entered on the count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Yared v Karam [2019] SCC 62 (12 December 2019). Successful appeal (majority) from the Court of Appeal for Quebec.

In 2011, K set up a trust to protect his family’s assets for the benefit of his and his wife T’s four children - In 2012, the trust acquired a residence with funds transferred by the spouses to the trust patrimony and the family moved in -Whether residence of family held in trust or rights which confer use of it included in family patrimony — Civil Code of Québec, art.415.

International Air Transport Association v. Instrubel, N.V. [2019] SCC 61 (11 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeals (majority) from the Court of Appeal of Quebec.

Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal

Commissioner of Inland Revenue v Poon Cho Ming [2020] HKFCA 2 (13 January 2020). Decision on costs.

The taxpayer sought an award of costs on a basis of taxation more generous common fund basis rather than the usual party and party basis.

ZN v Secretary for Justice [2020] HKFCA 53 (10 January 2020). Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal.

The appellant, a Pakistani national, was brought to Hong Kong as a foreign domestic helper between 2007 and 2010 – He was badly mistreated by his employer, restricted in his movement, beaten and not paid any wages - The appellant made multiple reports about the mistreatment that he had suffered to the Immigration Department, the Police and the Labour Department - A claim for unpaid wages was registered, but there was no investigation of his complaints as a possible case of human trafficking for forced labour – He applied for judicial review in respect of the Government’s breach of his rights under Article 4 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (BOR4) – The Court of First Instance allowed the application - Applied for judicial review in respect of the Government’s breach of his rights under Article 4 of the Hong Kong Bill of Rights (BOR4) -  Whether BOR4 prohibits human trafficking and, if so, what is the scope of the prohibition – Whether BOR4 imposes a positive duty on the Government to maintain a specific offence criminalising the activities prohibited under BOR4.

HKSAR v Chow Ho Yin [2019] HKCFA 52 (10 January 2020). Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal.

The appellant was convicted on charges of trafficking in a dangerous drug after admitting to possession of the drugs in question – At trial the appellant claimed that his confession was involuntary and inadmissible and was induced by certain promises made to him by one of the arresting officers (PW2) – During the voir dire hearing the appellant fell ill and was absent during PW2’s evidence – The appellant unsuccessfully appealed to the Court of Appeal – The appellant argued that a grave and substantial injustice had been done because the Judge’s refusal to adjourn the hearing and continue in his absence deprived him of a fair trial – Whether the appellant had a fair trial.

HKSAR v Chen Keen [2020] HCFCA 51 (8 January 2020). Costs judgment following successful appeals in the Court of Appeal.

The appellant’s convictions for conspiracy to defraud the Stock Exchange were quashed and a retrial was ordered – Whether there should be apportionment of costs given that the appellants only succeeded on one ground of appeal among many unsuccessful grounds.

Wo Chun Wah v Chau Kwei Yin [2019] HKCFA 48 (20 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal.

The respondent was injured at work and brought proceedings against his employer for common law damages of over $4.7 million - At the start of the trial, the respondent and the appellant (Board) settled his potential claim against the Fund for $1,420,000 - The employer was not party to this settlement and the trial went ahead, damages payable by him to the respondent eventually being assessed at HK$1,428,547, with the employer being ordered to pay the respondent’s costs – The trial judge declined to order the Board to pay costs – The Court of Appeal dismissed the respondents appeal against the refusal of costs and did not accept the Board’s argument that there was no jurisdiction to order costs against it in such proceedings - Whether the courts have power to make costs orders against the Board in proceedings for common law damages to which it has been joined as a party - Whether the Board has the power to enter into binding settlements regarding potential claims for payments out of the Fund, and the legal effect of such settlements.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council

A-G of St Helena v AB [2020] UKPC 1 (20 January 2020). Unsuccessful appeals from the Court of Appeal of St Helena.

Appeals against assessment of damages following two serious personal injury cases about grave medical malpractice and negligence by a doctorThe Judge assessed the damages without any adjustment of the relevant amounts for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA) by reference to any difference in local conditions as between St Helena and England and Wales – Whether the Court of Appeals quantification of damages took no account of the requirement for fairness or justice to the defendant – The Court of Appeal concluded on the evidence available to it, that a current disparity in average earnings was in effect cancelled out by the higher cost of living in St Helena, and coupled with the expectation of equal treatment there was no case for concluding that a downward adjustment of the JC Guidelines for use in St Helena was necessary.

De Zwart Band v Kanhai [2019] UKPC 48 (23 December 2019). Successful appeal from the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The appellants are two judgment creditors appealing against a stay imposed by the Trinidad and Tobago Court of Appeal upon an order for the sale of property over which they have charges - The property is the former matrimonial home of the two respondents - The appellants have charges on the husband’s interest - Whether the charges attach to the husband’s interest as it was in 2012 or as it may become at the end of ancillary relief proceedings - Whether there are exceptional circumstances such as would justify postponing the sale for a significant period.

Mohammed v Gomez [2019] UKPC 46 (19 December 2019).Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

The dispute related to three parcels of land, each of which the respondents claimed title to respectively - The question before the Court of Appeal was whether the appellant and his predecessors in title, by their lack of objection to the respondents’ occupation are estopped from arguing that the Respondents' statutory tenancies have not been renewed - Whether a statutory tenant under the Land Tenants (Security of Tenure) Act who fails to renew their statutory tenancy can rely on proprietary estoppel by acquiescence.

Peepul Capital Fund II LLC v Vsoft Holdings LLC [2019] UKPC 47 (19 December 2019).Unsuccessful appeal and successful cross appeal from the Supreme Court of Mauritius.

Peepul Capital Fund LLC and Millenium Strategic Group Limited (Peepul and Millenium) were investors in Vsoft Holdings LLC (Vsoft) - The parties agreed on the resolution of certain disputes between them by arbitration - The arbitrator made an award on 8 January 2015, ruling that he did not need to determine a number of issues and ordering Vsoft to pay Peepul and Millenium in excess of US$ 23m in respect of sums due, damages and costs - Peepul and Millenium obtained a provisional order for recognition and enforcement of the award from the Mauritian Supreme Court.

Vsoft considered that there was a failure of due process in the arbitration and that the arbitrator should have decided the issues that were before him - It applied for the award and the provisional order to be set aside - Before the hearing of that application, Peepul and Millenium obtained a freezing injunction on 17 August 2016, and Vsoft was granted an injunction restraining Peepul and Millenium from pursuing any further action in India or elsewhere on the basis that they were shareholders in Vsoft and/or from seeking relief inconsistent with the award on 12 September 2016 - On 13 December 2017 the Supreme Court dismissed Vsoft’s application to set aside the order and upheld the injunctions - In appeal 2018/0084, whether the Supreme Court erred in finding compelling reasons to grant an injunction restraining the appellants from pursuing further action elsewhere on the basis they were shareholders in the respondent - In appeal 2018/0089, whether the arbitration award should be set aside (a) because of a breach of natural justice in the arbitration, or (b) because of a failure by the arbitrator to decide all the issues, or (c) to give reasons, or (d) because the award was in breach of public policy, or (e) because the Supreme Court erred in its construction of the shareholders’ agreement.

Supreme Court of Ireland

No decisions released during this period

Singapore Court of Appeal

BZD v BZE [2020] SGCA 1 (15 January 2020). One successful and one unsuccessful appeal by the appellant wife from a decision of a trial judge regarding variation of a maintenance order.

Cross applications by both former husband and wife to vary a maintenance order issued on 30 November 2010 pursuant to s 118 of the Women’s Charter - The trial judge allowed the husband’s application (in part) to vary the maintenance order, ordering the rental component, the maid component and part of the personal expenses component to cease – The judge also dismissed the wife's application to increase the maintenance payment – Discussion of s 118 of the Women’s Charter – Whether there is evidence of any material change in circumstances vis-à-vis the wife’s employment status to justify any change in the monthly maintenance payable to her - Whether the fact that the husband’s income has increased substantially beyond that of the increase in the children’s educational expenses, it can still be said that there is a material change in the circumstances.

BNA v BNB [2019] SGCA 84 (27 December 2019). Successful appeal from the High Court.

The dispute arose in relation to an agreement (the Takeout Agreement) between the appellant and the respondents - The appellant was the buyer, and the respondents were the sellers, of certain products under the Takeout Agreement - The dispute arose when the appellant failed to make the necessary payments under the Takeout Agreement – Art 14 contained a dispute resolution provision - The respondents initiated arbitration proceedings administered by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) - The appellants challenged the jurisdiction of the arbitral tribunal, on the grounds that the proper law of the arbitration agreement was the law of People’s Republic of China (PRC), which law rendered the arbitration agreement invalid, and entailed that the dispute had to be litigated in the PRC courts instead - Applying the framework for determining the proper law of an arbitration agreement in BCY v BCZ [2017] 3 SLR 375, the Court of Appeal held that Shanghai, not Singapore, was the seat of the arbitration, and allowed the appeal.

Singapore Shooting Association v Singapore Rifle Association [2019] SGCA 83 (20 December 2019). Partially successful appeal from the High Court.

The first appellant, the Singapore Shooting Association (SSA), is the national sports association for the sport of shooting and a registered charity under the Charities Act (Cap 37, 2007 Rev Ed) (the Charities Act) -  The second to fourth appellants (the Individual Defendants) were SSA Council members at the material time - The respondent, the Singapore Rifle Association (SRA), is one of the founder members and constituent clubs of SSA - The dispute arose out of a resolution passed by the SSA Council purporting to suspend SRA’s privileges at the National Shooting Centre (the NSC), which SSA had sub-leased from Sport Singapore (Sport SG) and operated for a period of time - SRA brought an action in the High Court for declarations that (among other things) the resolution was ultra vires and the SSA Council had no power to pass such a resolution by circular instead of at a meeting – Whether the Individual Defendants are liable in the tort of unlawful means conspiracy – Whether SRA is entitles to declaratory relief in respect of Circular Resolution – Whether SSA is entitled to an indemnity for the cost of demolishing the Proprietary Range – Whether s 31 of the Charities Act requires that this dispute be litigated in the High Court - How should the disproportionate litigation in this case be addressed in terms of costs.

PEX International Pte Ltd v Lim Seng Chye [2019] SGCA 82 (19 December 2019). Unsuccessful appeals from the High Court.

The appeals involved a dispute in relation to a fire that caused extensive damage to a building owned by Lim Seng Chye (Lim) - The owner and occupier of No 17 was PEX International Pte Ltd (PEX) - PEX had engaged Formcraft Pte Ltd (Formcraft) as the contractor to carry out the construction works. Lim brought a claim in negligence, private nuisance and the rule in John Rylands and Jehu Horrocks v Thomas Fletcher (1868) LR 3 HL 330 (Rylands v Fletcher) against PEX – The HC Judge dismissed the claim in negligence but allowed the claim in nuisance and the rule in Rylands v Fletcher - Whether and to what extent the concept of foreseeability features in determining liability for nuisance.

Supreme Court of the United Kingdom

Patel v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2019] UKSC 59 (16 December 2019). Successful appeal from the Court of Appeal (Mr Shah).  Unsuccessful appeal from the Court of Appeal (Mr Patel).

Two appeals heard together - Mr Patel is an Indian national who is the primary carer for his elderly father - Both his parents are British citizens – his father has final stage kidney disease and his mother had previously suffered a heart attack and has very poor knee function making her relatively immobile - Mr Shah is a Pakistani national who is the primary carer for his British citizen child - His wife is a British citizen and works full time - Both of the appellants applied for a Derivative Residence Card on the basis of the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006, which state that a non-EU citizen is entitled to derivative right to reside in the UK if they are a primary carer of a British citizen residing in the UK and the British citizen would be unable to reside in the UK or another EEA state if the non-citizen were required to leave - Both were rejected on the basis that the relatives they cared for would not be forced to leave the UK if the appellants left – What is the scope of the  Ruiz Zambrano v Office national de l’emploi (Case C-34/09) [2012] QB 265 (Zambrano) principle - Zambrano states that a non-member state national (TCN) parent of a European Union (EU) citizen child resident within the EU is entitled to reside in the EU - Whether the CJEU decision in Chavez-Vilchez (Case C-133/15) altered the approach to the question of derivative claims for residence in the UK by those without rights of residence, based upon their care of British citizens who are their "direct relatives".

Miller v Minister of Justice [2019] UKSC 60 (16 December 2019). Successful appeals from the Court of Appeal.

The appellants are four judges, each of whom has held one or more appointments as fee-paid-part time judges, in some cases moving between such part-time and full-time salaried appointments - Judicial pensions, for those who are appointed on or after 31 March 1995, are provided for under the Judicial Pensions and Retirement Act 1993 (the 1993 Act) - The basic concept in that Act is “qualifying judicial office” (s.1) - The appellants, so long as not being paid on a “salaried basis”, were excluded from the definition of “qualifying judicial office”, and therefore were excluded from rights to a pension - Where a pension is calculable by reference to service, whether the period of service prior the coming into effect of the relevant directive should be taken into account in calculating the amount of pension to be paid - Ministry of Justice v O’Brien (No 2) [2017] UKSC 46; [2017] ICR 1101.

Supreme Court of the United States


Peter, Deputy Director, Patent and Trademark Office v. Nantkwest, Inc
. 589 U. S. _ (2019)
(11 December 2019)

The Patent Act provides two mutually exclusive methods for challenging an adverse decision by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) - Respondent NantKwest, Inc., filed a §145 civil action after its patent application was denied - The District Court granted summary judgment to the PTO, and the Federal Circuit affirmed - The PTO moved for reimbursement of expenses, including the pro rata salaries of PTO attorneys and a paralegal who worked on the case - The District Court denied the motion, concluding that the statutory language referencing expenses was not sufficient to rebut the “American Rule” presumption that parties are responsible for their own attorney’s fees – Whether the PTO can recover the salaries of its legal personnel under s 145.

Last updated on the 23rd January 2020