Proposed rule would be implemented by statute and would give primacy to parties’ choice of governing law and jurisdiction.

By Stuart Davis, Nell Perks, and Matthew Unsworth

There is at least a tentative consensus in English law that cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are capable of giving rise to property rights.[1] However, there remains considerable uncertainty around which laws should govern proprietary disputes about digital assets and which courts should have jurisdiction over those disputes.

The Financial Markets Law Committee (FMLC) explained the crux of this problem in their initial report on digital assets in 2018.[2] Traditionally, a question as to rights or entitlement to personal property is governed by the law of the place where the property is situated (lex situs).  But this rule is ill-suited to digital assets which, by their nature, are intangible, digitised, and constituted on a decentralised ledger shared across a network of participants in potentially any number of jurisdictions.

The sentencing of Romy Andrianarisoa, the first ever foreign public official to be convicted under the Bribery Act 2010, provides important takeaways.

By Pamela Reddy, Robin Spedding, and Matthew Unsworth

On 10 May 2024, Romy Andrianarisoa was sentenced to three-and-a-half years’ imprisonment for soliciting bribes contrary to Section 2 of the Bribery Act 2010 (Bribery Act). Andrianarisoa, former Chief of Staff to President Andry Rajoelina of Madagascar, requested substantial cash payments in exchange for helping UK-headquartered Gemfields Group

The English High Court found that a current risk of unfair trial in Russia justified declining to enforce Russian exclusive jurisdiction clauses.

By Oliver Middleton and Sean Newhouse

The English High Court has cleared the way for major aviation insurance litigation to proceed in England. In an important judgment on jurisdiction, the High Court refused to stay a group of claims based on the alleged total loss of aircraft formerly leased to Russian airlines. The defendants contended that any such

The Serious Fraud Office’s strategy for 2024 to 2029 indicates aspiration to be a more effective agency and to incentivise personnel.

By Nathan Seltzer, Pamela Reddy, Clare Nida, and Annie Birch

On 18 April 2024, the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) published an ambitious, albeit high-level, five-year plan (the Plan), setting out its proposed framework to address the increasingly complex landscape of serious fraud, bribery, and corruption. The Plan indicates Nick Ephgrave’s ambitions as the new director

Motivated by a “visceral reaction” to large-scale economic crime, Nick Ephgrave lays out vision for a bolder, more pragmatic, and more proactive agency.

By Pamela Reddy and Matthew Unsworth

Whistleblowers, dawn raids, and cross-agency collaboration are all top of Nick Ephgrave’s agenda as he settles into his new role as Director of the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO). Taking to the stage for his inaugural speech at the Royal United Services Institute last week,[i] Ephgrave gave a glimpse into his ambitious (if optimistic) plans for the agency under his leadership.

The time is right to review the rules on electronic service, says judge in a case involving invalid service of claim form.

By Oliver Middleton and Duncan Graves

A recent decision in the English High Court highlights the continued need for litigants to faithfully abide by the procedures governing the service of claim forms, which are “bright line rules” requiring stricter observance than many others in the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).[1] In the decision, the judge commented that the present framework governing service by electronic means, such as email, may not reflect modern litigation practice and could therefore be due for reform.

A recent ruling confirms judicial discretion to stay proceedings and instruct parties to seek non-court-based alternatives to litigation.

By Nell Perks and Duncan Graves

The English Court of Appeal has ruled that the court has the authority to stay proceedings and direct the parties to engage in a “non-court based dispute resolution process”. The court can exercise such authority provided the order does not impair the essence of the claimant’s right to proceed to a judicial hearing and is proportionate to achieving the aim of settling the dispute fairly, quickly, and at reasonable cost.[1]

Consistent with the overriding objective which requires the court to actively manage cases and facilitate alternative dispute resolution (ADR), the ruling clarifies the court’s case management powers and signals a potential move toward court-mandated dispute resolution processes.

Individuals continue to face risk from prosecutions for economic crime, despite media focus on corporate criminal liability reforms.

By Stuart Alford KC, Mair Williams, and Matthew Unsworth

Four individuals have today appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court charged with fraud in connection with the collapse of UK café and bakery chain, Patisserie Valerie.[i] This follows a five-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) — codenamed “Operation Venom” — which was launched after the chain suddenly announced that its financial statements over successive years had been “mis-stated and subject to fraudulent activity”.[ii] Among those charged is former CFO, Christopher Marsh, who was arrested on suspicion of fraud when the scandal first emerged but was released on bail soon after.

While corporate criminal liability continues to dominate headlines ahead of reforms to be introduced by the Economic Crime and Corporate Transparency Bill, the Patisserie Valerie charges serve as a reminder that there remains a risk of prosecution at the individual level. Indeed, this is the third case in which the SFO has charged individuals this year, and the agency is targeting a minimum 60% conviction rate of individual (as well as corporate) defendants between 2022 and 2025.[iii]

The Court held that banks do not owe this duty to customers deceived into instructing their banks to transfer money to fraudsters.

By Nell Perks and Callum Rodgers

On 12 July 2023, the UK Supreme Court handed down its highly anticipated judgment in Philipp v. Barclays Bank UK PLC [2023] UKSC 25, allowing the appeal brought by Barclays Bank UK PLC (Barclays).

The Court’s decision, which resolved longstanding questions about the nature of the Quincecare duty, clarified that the Quincecare duty only arises in cases in which there is fraud by an agent acting for the customer. As a result, it cannot apply in circumstances in which the relevant payment was authorised by the bank’s customer directly, so it has no application in APP fraud cases. The Court overturned the decision of the Court of Appeal, which had expressly held that that it is “at least possible in principle” that the Quincecare duty could apply to a “victim of APP fraud” on the basis that the Quincecare duty “does not depend on the fact that the bank is instructed by an agent of the customer of the bank”. [1]

A recent decision reminds parties about the need to draft dispute resolution clauses that are tailored to the parties’ agreement.

By Oliver E. Browne and Duncan Graves

The Court of Appeal recently ruled that an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) clause in a contract was unenforceable due to lack of clarity. The ruling signals to contracting parties that they should draft ADR clauses carefully, outlining the process to be followed with sufficient detail and clarity so that the clause can be enforced.