Bermuda Law Blog

Jennifer Haworth
In March 2013, the Chief Justice issued a decision in the case of Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Ltd v Minister of Economy Trade & Industry and the Bermuda Industrial Union [2013] Bda LR 19 (381 KB PDF). Kentucky Fried Chicken (Bermuda) Ltd. (“KFC”) sought judicial review of the Minister of Economy Trade & Industry’s (the “Minister”) decision to refer KFC’s dispute with the Bermuda Industrial Union (“BIU”) to binding adjudication under the Trade Disputes Act 1992 (the “Act”). The Chief Justice refused KFC’s application citing the Court’s limited ability to review such references and only in “extreme cases”.

Fozeia Rana-Fahy
The Privy Council gave judgment this year on an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal of Bermuda in Mutual Holdings (Bermuda) Limited and others [2013] UKPC 13 (97 KB PDF). The major issue concerned an allegation of fraud made against three corporate and four personal defendants (who included ex employees of the Mutual Group) in respect of the rent a captive facility operated by the Mutual Reinsurance Management Group. In broad terms, the defendants were alleged of overstating the extent of the plaintiffs’ exposure under a complex programme of insurance and reinsurance, thereby inducing them to order reinsurance which they did not need and to renew the programme for a further year on amended and disadvantageous terms. The trial judge in the Supreme Court of Bermuda rejected this allegation on the facts but the Court of Appeal upheld it and made findings of fraud against two of the corporate and one of the personal defendants.

In this case, Fifth Street Finance v D Dobbin [2013] SC (Bda) 55 Com (313 KB PDF), Alan Dunch and Tim Frith of MJM acted on behalf of Fifth Street Finance Corporation in the recovery of $4,000,000 as money due under a Guarantee and Indemnity Agreement dated September 28th, 2009. The principal debtor whose debts were guaranteed by the Defendant was a Canadian company Repechage Investments Limited as assignee of pre-existing liabilities under a 2007 credit agreement owed by two of Repechage Investment Limited’s subsidiaries, Elephant & Castle Group Inc. (a Canadian corporation) and Elephant & Castle Inc. (a Texas corporation). The Elephant & Castle Group operated and franchised British style pub restaurants in the United States and Canada, however the group collapsed in 2011 and Repechage filed a voluntary bankruptcy petition in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Massachusetts.

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (the “Board”) is the highest court of appeal for cases from Bermuda to be heard. When a case has reached the Privy Council, the issues to be considered by the Board are typically on points of law. On 8 October 2013, the Board handed down a judgment which will invariably affect all sentences which relate to murder in Bermuda: Selassie (Appellant) and Pearman (Appellant) v The Queen (Respondent) [2013] UK PC 29 (77 KB PDF).

Agathe Holowatinc
The One Bermuda Alliance Government has promised to continue to make revitalisation of the Bermuda economy its primary focus as it enters its second year in power. The promise featured prominently in Government’s Throne Speech (777 KB PDF) which marked the beginning of a new session of the Bermuda Legislature, and in which the one year old Government set out its plans for the forthcoming parliamentary year that began in early November.

Jessica Kemmenoe

The 2012 Supreme Court decision in the case of Moyes & Co (UK) Limited v Northern Gulf Petroleum Holdings Limited [2012] Bda LR 77 (290 KB PDF), clarifies the Bermuda Court’s approach when considering an application to have a claim struck out.

In this case, the Defendant attempted to have the action struck out pursuant to the Rules of the Supreme Court Order 18, Rule 19 Grounds (a) and (d), which states that the Court may strike out an action on the ground that—

(a) it discloses no reasonable cause of action or defence … or
(d) it is otherwise an abuse of the process of the court …

The recent Supreme Court decision of The Bermuda Ombudsman v Corporation of Hamilton et al (420 KB PDF) [2013] SC (Bda) 72 Civ. which was handed down on 7 October 2013, sheds light on the authority that is vested in the office of the Ombudsman (the “Ombudsman”) and the weight that a summons issued by the Ombudsman has. The Ombudsman is a statutory body whose powers devolve from the Ombudsman Act 2004 (the “Act”).  The Ombudsman’s main jurisdictional function is to investigate maladministration on behalf of a public authority (section 5 of the Act).

As a firm that is committed to the professional development of its attorneys, MJM Limited offers its attorneys an internal professional development program. The program is designed to equip MJM attorneys with knowledge and information about relevant and developing areas of law so that they stay current with legal developments. Presentation topics typically cover the areas of interest and practice of the firm’s attorneys. For this year, internal presentations have been made in the following areas: insurance, telecommunications, corporate meeting and governance procedure, insolvency, employment and the legislative process in Bermuda.