Doing business

Law and faith

What does the expression ‘good faith’ mean when you put it in a shareholders agreement?

Court backs clawback clause

July 2018 Where a clause in a business contract is badly worded, judges will generally try to reach a decision as to what it intended to say. They would prefer to do this than to rule that the clause is meaningless and should be ignored completely. After all, presumably the parties to the contract meant it to mean something, otherwise they wouldn’t have put the clause in...

Meaning of ‘good faith’

28/6/18 Whilst it might make things a bit less commercially certain, my personal preference would be to insert a general duty of good faith into any contract. You can then rely on the English courts’ sense of fair play as to what this means. As with anything else, the case law on this (ie the law set out by a succession of cases in courts over time) will keep developing. The most important case law is set out by the Supreme Court and below that the Court of Appeal, because precedents they set have to be followed by lower courts. Cases at the Commercial Court are less important, but still help to set the tone...

The importance of checking your contracts

12/6/18 3 related articles here...Whilst it’s nice to be able to put a written business contract away in a drawer once it’s been negotiated and signed, a few recent cases highlight the importance of making sure you carefully read and follow any procedures they may provide for.

How discretionary is a discretion?

March 2018 In this recent case, Watson was a director of a company which provided services to Watchfinder, which trades luxury pre-owned watches. Watchfinder granted Watson an option to buy shares in it. The option said that ‘The Option may only be exercised with the consent of a majority of the board of directors of the Company’ (ie Watchfinder). Watchfinder said that this meant that the board had an unconditional right to veto the exercise of the option. What did the court say?...

Unfair contract terms – or not

Jan 2018 A syndicate of lenders used an industry standard facility agreement provided by the Loan Market Association (‘LMA’) with a borrower (a Nigerian oil explorer and producer). Some of the terms were changed by negotiation. One that wasn’t was a clause saying that the borrower had no right of set off against amounts claimed by the lenders. Things went wrong and the borrower wanted to set off claims it had against the lenders against the monies the lenders wanted to recover. ..

Can someone who breaches a contract receive credit for a benefit received by the other party?

Nov 2017 A cruise ship, the New Flamenco, was chartered under a contract until November 2009. The charterer wrongly thought they could return the ship in October 2007. The owner sought damages for this breach. At about the same time the owner also sold the ship for over US $23.5m. Two years later in November 2009, when the ship had been due to be returned under the contract, it was only worth US$7m – largely because of the financial crash. So the owner was $16.5 million better off as a result of selling in 2007 rather than in 2009 – considerably more than the $7.5m of lost profits it was claiming in damages. Should the court have taken this into account and given credit for this $16.5m benefit in calculating the damages, so that the damages would have been nil? What did the court say?...