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Commercial Disputes Weekly – Issue 8721 September 2021


"The pressure applied by a negotiating party will very rarely come up to the standard of illegitimate pressure or unconscionable conduct."Pakistan International Airline Corporation v Times Travel (UK) Ltd

Economic duress
In an important decision the Supreme Court has confirmed the existence of a principle of lawful act economic duress in English law whilst emphasising that a demand motivated by commercial self-interest is, in general, justified, and that lawful act economic duress is essentially concerned with identifying rare and exceptional cases where a demand, motivated by commercial self-interest, is nevertheless unjustified.
Pakistan International Airline Corporation v Times Travel (UK) Ltd

Estoppel by convention
In the context of an application to amend a claim relating to rent payable under various aircraft lease agreements the High Court has helpfully explained what a properly pleaded claim for estoppel by convention should set out.
Various Airfinance Leasing Companies & Anr v Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation & Anr

The High Court has noted that, while the discretion to draw adverse inferences from the absence or silence of a witness is only likely to genuinely arise in a relatively small number of cases, the failure to call a key witness in the context of a claim for misrepresentation relating to the purchase of an investment property was one of those rare cases where such an inference was inescapable.
Ahuja Investments Ltd v Victorygame Ltd & Anr

Freezing orders
Emphasising that a freezing order is not intended to be used as a standard means of securing enforcement, the Court of Appeal has explaining what is meant by a real risk of dissipation, holding that an important distinction must be drawn between a defendant who can pay but refuses to do so until forced, and a defendant who is so determined not to pay that they would take active steps to frustrate the recovery of sums due to their creditors by transferring or concealing assets.
Les Ambassadeurs Club Ltd v Yu

The Commercial Court has rejected a challenge to an arbitration award which gave credit for a saving in drydocking costs in circumstances where a vessel had been detained for three years.  There was no doubt that, had the vessel not been detained, drydocking costs would have been incurred and as an experienced maritime arbitrator, the arbitrator in this case was in a very good position to judge whether the circumstances of the case were such that there was any point in thereafter deciding to drydock the vessel.
Space Shipping Ltd v ST Shipping and Transport Pte Ltd

The Commercial Court has accepted arguments that, following repeated failures to pay hire instalments on time or in full, a charterer had deprived a vessel owner of substantially the whole benefit of the charterparty, and the owner had therefore been entitled to suspend performance and treat the charterparty as having come to an end.
AI Giorgis Oil Trading Limited v AG Shipping & Energy Pte. Limited (MT “Marquessa”)

Security for costs
The Court of Appeal has confirmed that a failure to provide information as to how a defendant is funding their defence can be a relevant factor when determining whether to make an order for security for costs, although it will not inevitably be a decisive factor, or necessarily one which should be given any weight at all.
Heathfield International LLC v Axiom Stone (London) Ltd & Anr

Should you wish to discuss any of these cases in further detail, please speak with a member of our London dispute resolution team below, or your regular contact at Watson Farley & Williams:

Robert Fidoe
Rebecca Williams
Ryland AshCharles Buss
Nikki ChuDev Desai
Sarah EllingtonAndrew Hutcheon
Alexis Martinez
Theresa Mohammed
Tim Murray
Mike Phillips
Andrew Ward

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