37 min

Corporate Veil & Conspiracy: novel applications of the economic torts and ongoing uncertainties in this area 4 New Square Chambers: In Brief

    • Business

The talk is borne primarily of thoughts and considerations which arose in the course of Palmer Birch v Lloyd [2018] 4 WLR 164. In that case, Matthew acted for the successful claimant, which faced and overcame a defence founded on the separate legal personality of companies. The Court also rejected the contention that a defence of justification exists in the tort of unlawful means conspiracy.



Having considered how the “corporate veil” defence in Palmer Birch was overcome, Matthew discusses other recent decisions in this area and the very real and vital uncertainties they exemplify, including:

- The potential impact on cases such as Palmer Birch of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Garcia v Marex Financial [2018] EWCA Civ 1468, in relation to which a decision of the Supreme Court is awaited.

- Precisely what the Supreme Court meant by the concept of a “just cause or excuse” for an unlawful means conspiracy in JSC BTA Bank v Khrapunov [2018] UKSC 19.

- Recent decisions underscoring the ongoing gulf in the authorities as to whether a claimant must prove knowledge of unlawfulness on a defendant’s part in order to affix that defendant with liability for unlawful means conspiracy, and the potentially large impact of this uncertainty on claims under that tort (Stobart Group v Tinkler [2019] EWHC 258 (Comm); Racing Partnership Ltd v Done Brothers [2019] EWHC 1156 (Ch)).

- Whether acts which are unlawful under foreign law may serve as the relevant unlawful means in a conspiracy claim.

The talk is borne primarily of thoughts and considerations which arose in the course of Palmer Birch v Lloyd [2018] 4 WLR 164. In that case, Matthew acted for the successful claimant, which faced and overcame a defence founded on the separate legal personality of companies. The Court also rejected the contention that a defence of justification exists in the tort of unlawful means conspiracy.



Having considered how the “corporate veil” defence in Palmer Birch was overcome, Matthew discusses other recent decisions in this area and the very real and vital uncertainties they exemplify, including:

- The potential impact on cases such as Palmer Birch of the Court of Appeal’s decision in Garcia v Marex Financial [2018] EWCA Civ 1468, in relation to which a decision of the Supreme Court is awaited.

- Precisely what the Supreme Court meant by the concept of a “just cause or excuse” for an unlawful means conspiracy in JSC BTA Bank v Khrapunov [2018] UKSC 19.

- Recent decisions underscoring the ongoing gulf in the authorities as to whether a claimant must prove knowledge of unlawfulness on a defendant’s part in order to affix that defendant with liability for unlawful means conspiracy, and the potentially large impact of this uncertainty on claims under that tort (Stobart Group v Tinkler [2019] EWHC 258 (Comm); Racing Partnership Ltd v Done Brothers [2019] EWHC 1156 (Ch)).

- Whether acts which are unlawful under foreign law may serve as the relevant unlawful means in a conspiracy claim.

37 min

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