Litigation & Dispute Resolution

Jordan Knight
Recently in the news there have been increasing reports of rescue efforts and road accidents where members of the public have been praised for assisting the victims until emergency services personnel arrived. For some people, leaping to action in those circumstances is an instinctual response to seeing a fellow man or woman in need. But what happens if in doing so that person makes the matter worse?

Jennifer Haworth
In December 2016, the legislature in Bermuda passed the Bribery Act 2016 (the “Act”) which will come into force on 1 September 2017. The Act is based on the UK Bribery Act 2010. Currently, there are several separate laws dealing with bribery and corruption offences in Bermuda, such as the Criminal Code 1907 (Section 111 Official Corruption and Section 112 Extortion By Public Officers), the Parliament Act 1957 and the Parliamentary Election Act 1978. But as of Friday, there will be one comprehensive statute which sets out what constitutes bribery in Bermuda.

Agathe Holowatinc
"While, in the vast majority of cases, people exercise their right of access to justice through the services of a lawyer, over the last decade, there have been an ever increasing number of litigants in person appearing in the Bermuda Courts," reads the Preface in the newly released Handbook for Civil Litigants in Person. Although not short, the 47 page Handbook is clear and comprehensive, detailed and accessible, and aims to help individuals appearing on their own behalf to navigate the civil justice system as effectively as they can.

Jennifer Haworth
On May 5, 2017, Supreme Court Justice Charles-Etta Simmons ruled that the Registrar-General’s decision to reject a marriage application from a same-sex couple was discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation, declaring that “same-sex couples are entitled to be married under the Marriage Act”. The case had been brought by Bermudian Winston Godwin and his Canadian fiancé Greg DeRoche, who took their case to the Supreme Court after the Registrar-General refused to publish their marriage banns, arguing that the Human Rights Act (the “HRA”) took primacy in Bermuda and protected their right to marry. “The facts of this case are relatively simple and straightforward,” Justice Simmons wrote in her introduction. “The Applicants are both male. Each states by affidavit that they met in Canada, the home of the second Applicant, and started dating in 2015. They both love Bermuda, the home of the first Applicant. It is their wish to be married in Bermuda irrespective of their gender as recognition of the feelings that they have for one another.

Andrew A. Martin
In an important decision in November 2016, the Insurance Appeals Tribunal (the “IAT”) published in the press the text of its decision in relation to the jurisdiction to award costs in an appeal from a regulatory decision and appeal to the IAT under the Insurance Act 1978 (the “Act”). Normally in civil litigation the rule is that costs follow the event, and the substantial winner is entitled to an award of costs representing the costs reasonably incurred in the prosecution or defence of the proceedings. The issue arose after the unsuccessful appeal of a party who had been sanctioned by the Insurance Tribunal as to whether the same general rule applied under the statutory formula , which is worded in a wider and more permissive way, allowing the IAT the power to award costs as it “thinks fit” under section 44 D (1) of the Act.

Andrew A. Martin
This Act was passed in the first quarter of 2016 but has not yet become effective. It is a lengthy Act with a number of separate and detailed statutory mechanisms which work in conjunction with one another. The purpose of the Act is to address a situation where all or part of a bank’s business encounters financial difficulty or is likely to encounter such difficulty. The Act seeks to provide a mechanism for enabling the orderly transfer of the assets of a distressed bank, and the protection of deposit holders’ interests in keeping with international standards.

Jennifer Haworth
The employment tribunal system was established to provide an employee the regime in which to make a formal complaint that their employer has violated the Employment Act 2000 (the “Act”). The process was designed to encourage the parties to settle their differences wherever possible. If the parties cannot reach an agreement and there are reasonable grounds to suggest the employer may have violated the Act, the parties proceed to the Employment Tribunal for a hearing which lacks the sometimes daunting formalities of the courts. The trouble with the process in Bermuda is that over the course of the last several years, the Act has been interpreted in such a way as to limit the role of the Employment Inspectors, pushing many, if not all complaints, through to the Employment Tribunal. This erodes important principles of justice and the pendulum has swung so far toward due process for the employee that parties are no longer on equal footing.