The Fourth Business and Property Court Forum took place on 1 April 2019 at Northumbria University. The event was focused on Current Issues in Business Law from a practical angle, and most importantly from a judicial point of view, expertly delivered by Lord Justice Stephen Males, who now sits in the Court of Appeal.
The event was attended by numerous participants, including Solicitors, Barristers, members of the Judiciary, Lecturers, Accountants, as well as students and trainee solicitors. It was very pleasing to see many familiar faces, which is a strong indication that our events are becoming increasingly popular.
The Forum benefited from an introduction by District Judge Tery Phillips, which was followed by the very engaging and thought provoking ( sprinkled with very subtle humour) talk by Lord Justice Males, which had two parts.
Lord Justice Males started with an overview of what impact Brexit may have on the English Law, in particular on the existing contractual relationships between English and EU entities. He gave us all a lot to think about, taking the audience through the potential effects on the authorisation to provide services in EU countries, through the potential implications as a result of frustration or even illegality of contracts, and touching upon the issues of foreseeability and predictability.
Lord Justice Males placed the importance of the judiciary getting things right in a bright light. To this end, he offered a very useful summary of the test case of Patel v Mirza  EWCA Civ 1047, decided by the Supreme Court in 2016  UKSC 42.
To further illustrate the difficult task of assessing and ultimately deciding upon the impact of Brexit on contracts, he discussed the case of Canary Wharf v European Medicines Agency (EMA)  EWHC 335 (Ch), which helpfully concluded that Brexit is not a frustrating event. This is however just the beginning of what will become a large body of case law.
The second part of Lord Justice Males’ talk focused on the categories of cases which have been going to the Court of Appeal recently, based on his own observations. There are, mainly:
- Cases about stifling claims or defence
- Default interest cases – illustrated by Cargill International Trading PTE Ltd v Uttam Galva Steels Ltd  EWHC 476 (Comm) (28 February 2019)
- Loss of chance cases – illustrated by Perry v Raleys Solicitors  EWCA Civ 314
The case of Spi North Limited v Swiss Post International (UK) Ltd and Asendia UK Ltd  EWCA Civ 7 (which decided that there is no duty on a corporate defendant to make ‘reasonable enquiries’ before putting a claimant to proof) got a special mention due to its Northern flavour.
The presentation was very well received and raised significant interest. We are grateful for the extremely positive feedback received.
The Forum ended with closing remarks from District Judge Tery Phillips, networking and the announcement that the next Forum will take place on the first week of July 2019, at a date to be announced.
The B&PC Forum Committee wishes to thank all the participants for their presence, to the Newcastle Law Society for their assistance and to Northumbria University for providing the venue. Special thanks to Dere Street Barristers, who sponsored the refreshments.
Cristina Falzon, 1 April 2019