CASE SUMMARIES v 13 January 1997

All England Law Reports
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The following notes of judgments were prepared by the reporters of the All England Law Reports.

Auditors

Barings plc & anr v Coopers & Lybrand (a firm) & ors; CA (Leggatt, Swinton Thomas, Mummery LJJ) 22 Nov 1996.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the decision of Chadwick J (Law Report, 1 October 1996) that the auditors of Barings' Singapore subsidiary were proper parties to an action launched by Barings in London, and that writs could be served on them out of the jurisdiction. Barings claimed damages for negligence in respect of the failure of both its London and Singapore auditors to uncover the unauthorised dealings of Barings' employee Nicholas Leeson, which resulted in the bank's collapse.

Sydney Kentridge QC, Philip Sales (Herbert Smith) for the fourth and fifth defendants; Stanley Burnton QC, Rhodri Davies, Richard Gillis (Slaughter & May) for Barings; Christopher Butcher (Wilde Sapte) for the second and third defendants.

Shipping

Galaxy Energy International Ltd v Novorossiyuk Shipping Co (The Petr Shmidt); QBD (Comm Ct) (Longmore J) 8 Nov 1996.

A notice of readiness to load a vessel was not invalid even though it had been tendered outside the hours within which the charterparty had required it to be tendered. Only if a notice was untrue would it be invalid in the sense of being a nullity. Since the ship was physically ready when the notice was given, it was not untrue, only non-contractual in the sense that it was tendered outside contractual times. Accordingly it was not invalid and was contractual from the time the charterparty had stated it should be served.

Nicholas Hamblen (Stephenson Harwood) for the charterers; Charles Priday (Lawrence Graham) for the owners.

VAT

R v Customs & Excise Commrs, ex p Kay & Co Ltd & ors; QBD (Keene J) 19 Nov 1996.

The commissioners had no power to refrain from paying claims for recovery of overpaid VAT or unclaimed credits pending proposed legislation to limit the time for making claims to three years. On 18 July 1996 the Paymaster General announced in Parliament that a provision would be introduced in the next Finance Bill retrospectively limiting the time for such claims. Customs immediately stopped paying claims over three years old. The Value Added Tax Act 1994 conferred no power to defer payment of processed claims established as valid pending the proposed legislation. Immediate payment of the sums due was ordered.

Roderick Cordara QC with, variously, Richard McManus (Paisner & Co), Joe Smouha (Allen & Overy) and Perdita Cargill-Thompson (Druce & Attlee; Titmuss Sainer Dechart; Edwards Geldard, Cardiff) for eight of the applicants; Michael Sherry (Baker & McKenzie) for the other applicant. Paul Lasok QC, Peter Mantle (Customs & Excise).

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