The decision clarifies the role of the English courts and the UK executive branch in the recognition of foreign heads of state and the ability of English courts to adjudicate the lawfulness of executive and legislative acts of foreign states.

By Charles Claypoole, Isuru Devendra and Michelle Taylor

The UK Supreme Court (UKSC) recently issued its judgment in “Maduro Board” of the Central Bank of Venezuela v “Guaidó Board” of the Central Bank of Venezuela.[1] The case concerns who controls Venezuela’s gold reserves of approximately US$1.95 billion held by the Bank of England, and proceeds of a gold swap contract of approximately US$120 million held by court-appointed receivers in England: the board of the Central Bank of Venezuela (the BCV) appointed by Nicolás Maduro, who claims to be the President of Venezuela (the Maduro Board); or the BCV board appointed by Juan Guaidó, who claims to be the interim President of Venezuela following his appointment by the National Assembly of Venezuela (the Guaidó Board)?

The judgment clarifies the Court’s approach to proposed transfers under Part VII of FSMA, as well as the scope and application of s. 110(1)(b). 

On 24 November 2021, the High Court of England and Wales (the Court) sanctioned a £10.1 billion annuity book transfer from The Prudential Assurance Company Limited (PAC) to Rothesay Life Plc (Rothesay) under Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

The Court previously declined to sanction the transfer following an initial sanction hearing in July 2019. The Court of Appeal then overturned that decision in December 2020 after an appeal by PAC and Rothesay, and the transfer was remitted to the Court for a further sanction hearing between 8-10 November 2021 before the honourable Mr Justice Trower (the Remitted Sanction Hearing). The Court’s judgment following the Remitted Sanction Hearing was handed down on 24 November 2021 (the Judgment), and provides useful guidance on certain aspects of the Part VII process.

UK companies should be aware of the increasing focus on corporate culture by regulators on both sides of the Atlantic.

By Nathan H. Seltzer, David Berman, Stuart Alford QC, Christopher M. Ting, and Nell Perks

In a recent speech that has garnered significant attention, US Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco highlighted several important changes in how the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will pursue corporate crime during the Biden Administration. (Read Latham’s in-depth Client Alert analysing the speech and its potential impact, and Latham’s blog post highlighting matters of particular relevance to UK PLCs.)

This post highlights the DOJ’s particular emphasis on the importance of “corporate culture”.

The priorities will impact non-US companies who may face a US DOJ with a renewed emphasis on combating corporate crime.

By Stuart Alford QC, Nathan H. Seltzer, and Christopher M. Ting

In a recent speech that has garnered significant attention, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, Lisa Monaco, highlighted several important changes regarding how the US Department of Justice (DOJ) will pursue corporate crime during the Biden Administration. Latham’s in-depth analysis of the speech and its potential impact can be found here.

In addition to reinforcing prior statements that the Biden Administration will prioritise the prosecution of corporate and white collar crime, the speech touched on several areas that may be of particular relevance to UK and other non-US companies. This blog post highlights some of those areas.

Recent developments at the CJEU give some shape to the practical implications of Article 17 of the Copyright Directive.

By Jean-Luc Juhan, Susan Kempe-Mueller, Deborah Kirk, Elva Cullen, Alex Park, Pia Sophie Sösemann, Victoria Wan, and Amy Smyth

7 June 2021 was the implementation deadline for the Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive (EU) 2019/790 (the Copyright Directive), yet just four EU Member States (including Germany and the Netherlands) have fully transposed the Copyright Directive, whilst four others (including France and Denmark) have transposed only parts of the Copyright Directive. The delay in implementation is perhaps unsurprising given the controversial nature of certain of the Copyright Directive’s provisions, in particular Article 17.

Recent developments have started to add colour to how Article 17 may work in practice, and how it might align with the broader regulation of platform liability for infringing content. This blog post will discuss these developments and analyse the implications for platforms and rights holders.

By Tom Evans, David Walker, Daniel SmithAisling Billington, and Catherine Campbell

The location of the data is not sufficient to avoid a disclosure order.

When it comes to personal devices, people increasingly communicate across multiple platforms, often in an informal and unguarded manner. However, high levels of litigation driven by the COVID-19 pandemic (including insolvency and restructuring litigation), the recent M&A boom (including shareholder disputes and other transactional litigation), and the rise of remote/hybrid work mean that PE firms must remain alert to the risk of personal device communications being disclosed in litigation.

As seen in recent cases, the English courts place value in contemporaneous written evidence, and take a pragmatic and targeted approach to disclosure. While English courts are mindful of the privacy rights of individuals, they recognise that employees conduct work on personal devices and non-proprietary third-party apps.

However, the location of the data is not sufficient to avoid a disclosure order, and PE firms should consider how to best protect themselves.

Importantly for commercial parties, the decision indicates that parties are assumed to be aware of this approach.

By Daniel Smith and Rebecca Angelini

Liquidated damages clauses provide pre-agreed remedies for contracting parties in the event of particular breaches of contract. This allows the innocent party to avoid the time and effort of quantifying its loss, and provides the parties with commercial certainty in respect of the remedies available for a particular breach. On 16 July 2021, in Triple Point Technology, Inc v. PTT Public Company Ltd,[1] the UK Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeal decision and affirmed several important principles in relation to liquidated damages:

  • Liquidated damages cease to accrue upon termination of a contract, but rights accrued as at the date of termination survive.
  • Following termination of a contract containing a liquidated damages clause, the contracting parties must seek damages for breach of contract under the general principles of English law.
  • Contracting parties do not have to include provisions concerning the effect of termination on the accrual of liquidated damages. Instead, they can reason that such consequences are assumed.

The ruling clarifies that a litigant can withhold disclosure of communications even if the other person was unaware that the communication was for a privileged purpose.

By Daniel Smith and Mair Williams

In recent years, the English court has examined litigation privilege carefully. However, no aspect has been the subject of more scrutiny than the requirement that documents that a litigant seeks to withhold must have been prepared for the “dominant purpose” of preparing for litigation.

In Ahuja Investments Limited v. Victorygame Limited and Surjit Singh Pandher,[1] the court considered a situation in which one party to an exchange of correspondence withheld from the other their underlying dominant purpose, which was to prepare for litigation with a third party. The court permitted the assertion of litigation privilege, distinguishing previous authority that deception destroyed a claim to privilege. However, the decision raises some difficult questions about precisely whose intention matters if the document in question is correspondence involving multiple authors.

Mr Justice Hacon finds that procedures for applying for permission to appeal are not altered by the COVID-19 Protocol.

 By Oliver E. Browne

In Claydon v. Mzuri,[1] Mr Justice Hacon of the High Court has found that the COVID-19 Protocol does not alter the procedure for appeal applications if a decision is handed down remotely and the parties do not attend. Notably, the Judge clarified that the remote nature of the relevant hearings and the handing down of the trial judgment had no bearing on the proper approach to be followed in the context of seeking permission to appeal.

The ruling confirmed that Section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 has extensive international reach, and does not require a transaction at an undervalue to leave the debtor with insufficient assets.

By Simon J. Baskerville, Oliver E. Browne, Jessica Walker, Daniel Smith, and Chris Attrill

The English High Court has held that a creditor pursuing a claim under Section 423 of the Insolvency Act 1986 (s. 423) does not need to prove that the debtor has