Patrick Bracher (ZA)

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Private equity firm not liable for investing in competing company (US)

A Delaware court dismissed a claim that a private equity firm and its affiliated funds had misappropriated trade secrets acquired from a portfolio company via their directors on the board of the company and misused the information by investing in a competitor. The court found that no reasonable inference of misappropriation could be drawn because … Continue reading

Administrative law: Obligation to exhaust internal remedies

The Constitutional Court re-examined section 7(2) of the Promotion of Administrative Justice Act which creates an obligation on applicants for the court review of an administrative decision to exhaust all internal remedies first. The obligation to exhaust internal remedies should not be rigidly imposed nor used by administrators to frustrate an applicant’s efforts to review the … Continue reading

Fraudulent misrepresentation defeats voetstoots clause in sale

Where a seller had fraudulently failed to disclose a defective roof and sewerage system covered by buildings constructed without required statutory approval he was successfully sued in delict for fraudulent misrepresentation and fraudulent nondisclosure. Because the conduct was fraudulent the delictual claim defeated the voetstoots clause in the deed of sale as well as the … Continue reading

Claim by shareholders against directors under section 218(2) of Companies Act fails

Shareholders of African Bank Investments Limited failed in their claim for over R720 million against the directors and auditors of African Bank. The plaintiffs sued unsuccessfully under section 218(2) of the Companies Act 2008 alleging that the conduct of the defendants resulted in a loss to the shareholders because of the drop in the share price. The … Continue reading

‘Fraudulent devices’

The English Supreme Court had the following to say regarding the standard insurance policy fraud clause which excludes liability if the insured makes a claim ‘by fraudulent devices’. The court said: ‘The expression is borrowed from a standard clause avoiding contracts of fire insurance which was widely used in the 19th and early 20th Centuries. … Continue reading

Medical prosthesis not defective nor abnormal risk (UK)

The manufacturer of a hip prosthesis system (which was of a metal-on-metal design) for use in total hip replacement operations was sued by 313 individual claimants who alleged metal-wear debris damaged surrounding soft tissues necessitating revision surgery. The court found that the system was not defective and the claimants had not proved that it did … Continue reading

Bank escapes liability for credit reference

Playboy Club London sued an Italian bank for losses it suffered after it extended a credit facility to one of the bank’s customers on the basis of a favourable credit reference provided by the bank. A ‘well-known figure at a casino in Lebanon’ applied to Playboy Club for a cheque-cashing facility up to £800 000 to … Continue reading

Hiring a sexual offender who causes harm is an insured ‘accident’ (US)

The California Supreme Court held that the negligent hiring, retention and supervision of an employee who sexually abused a 13-year old at a school where he was working was an ‘accident’ for the purposes of a general liability policy. In Californian law an accident is ‘an unexpected, unforeseen, or undesigned happening or consequence from either … Continue reading

Proof of online questions in insurance application

Insurers could not reject liability on the basis that the insured had deliberately or recklessly misrepresented his address when applying for insurance because there was no clear evidence about the precise wording of the questions which appeared on the computer screen at the time the online application was made. Computer websites allowed the consumer to … Continue reading

Director’s personal liability (UK)

In a UK case the court made some pertinent remarks about the personal liability of a director: A director is not liable for the wrongdoing of her/his company merely by reason of being a director. The director is liable for wrongs personally carried out by her/him. A director is also liable where she or he … Continue reading

Armed robbery is vis major

Two consignments of cigarettes which were imported into South Africa from Zimbabwe were stolen in August 2009 by unknown armed robbers during a robbery from a customs and excise warehouse. The owners of the consignment claimed a rebate of customs duty under the Customs and Excise Act which allows a rebate in circumstances of vis … Continue reading

Arbitration clause not void for vagueness (UK)

The UK Chancery Division held that an arbitration clause, which could be invoked over a dispute whether there had been ‘any major physical or financial change in circumstances affecting the operation’ of Tata Steel which imported goods through a Welsh port, was not void for uncertainty. The court quoted a nice passage from a previous … Continue reading

When the costs exceed the claim (UK)

Two UK judges have expressed their dismay over a matter that went to court for three plaintiffs with modest claims in the lower hundreds of pounds where the parties ended up spending GBP2 million on costs. The claim was against an airline for air tickets for cancelled flights. The court observed that from an early … Continue reading
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