Recent Cases

Michael Wilson and Partners Ltd v Emmott [2021] NSWCA 315 (17 December 2021) (Leeming and Brereton JJA, Emmett AJA)


PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Jurisdiction – Personal jurisdiction – Service outside of the jurisdiction – Partnership and contribution claims by corporate appellant as assignee of the rights of the trustees in bankruptcy of two former business associates of respondent – Respondent and two associates previously members of appellant firm operating in Kazakhstan but departed to establish competitor – Prior arbitration in London between appellant and respondent – Prior proceedings in Australia by appellant against two associates – Appeal from permanent stay of claims pursuant to rules for service outside of Australia

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Jurisdiction – Personal jurisdiction – Service outside of the jurisdiction – Connecting factors – Person outside of Australia a defendant to a claim for contribution or indemnity in respect of a liability enforceable by a proceeding in the court – Whether insufficient prospects of success to warrant service – Whether amount in issue only approximately USD$2,000 – Whether any right of contribution – Appeal on contribution claim dismissed

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Orders with extraterritorial effect – Anti-suit injunctions – Anti-suit injunction restraining claims previously determined and adverse findings previously made by arbitration in London – Interpretation of arbitral award – Majority of aspects of contribution claim covered – No error in finding that claim could only amount to USD$2,000

EQUITY – Contribution – Exclusion of right – Knowing assistants – Persons with liabilities not of same nature and extent not entitled to contribution – Persons without clean hands not entitled to contribution – Previous High Court proceedings identified two associates as knowing assistants in dishonest breach of trust, with liability of potentially differing nature and extent – Appellant as assignee not entitled to claim contribution, let alone indemnity

EQUITY – Contribution – Exclusion of right – Persons who have not paid just proportion of liability or not willing and able to do so not entitled to contribution – Two associates both bankrupt and one deceased – No prospect of payment – Appellant as assignee not entitled to claim contribution

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Jurisdiction – Personal jurisdiction – Service outside of the jurisdiction – Connecting factors – Whether partnership formed or carried on business in Australia – Whether partnership agreement governed by Australian law or enforceable or cognizable in an Australian court – Nothing to indicate satisfaction of such requirements – Leave to serve required

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Applicable law – Choice of law rules – Partnerships – Place where partnership formed or carries on business – Partnership formed and operated in Kazakhstan – Partnership not governed by Australian law

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Jurisdiction – Personal jurisdiction – Service outside of the jurisdiction – Leave to serve – Real and substantial connection – Previous proceedings in Australia resulting in partnership liability, bankruptcy events, unsigned consultancy agreements, citizenship, and litigation funding all insufficient – Existence of partnership assets in Australia – Partnerships can, and possibly only can, be wound up and accounts taken in Australia – Real and substantial connection established – Australia an appropriate forum – Leave to serve granted

PARTNERSHIPS AND JOINT VENTURES – Partnership property – Identification – Evidence that partnership has asset-owning and operating entities in Australia – Evidence in the form of engagement contracts, receipts, and Australian bank account

APPEALS – Point not taken below – Conduct of trial – Existence of partnership assets not referred to in submissions below nor primary judgment but was in evidence and articulated in affidavit of solicitor – Raised in submissions on appeal and not contested by respondent – Radical effect upon outcome – Permissible to consider on appeal

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Foreign judgments and orders – Effect of recognition and enforcement – Whether English courts mandated consideration of partnership claim by Australian courts – English courts merely ordered case management stay in context of lis pendens – Judgments say nothing about jurisdiction or appropriateness of Australian courts

PRIVATE INTERNATIONAL LAW – Non-exercise of jurisdiction – Inappropriate forum – Existence of real and substantial connection makes Australia an appropriate forum and negates inappropriate forum conclusion

APPEALS – Leave to appeal – Whether leave required – Interlocutory decisions – Appeal from permanent stay – No final determination of rights and obligations of parties – Distinction from final resolution by way of estoppel arising from earlier proceedings – Leave required – Decision nevertheless finally determined ability of appellant to litigate – Appeal heard concurrently and in full – Appeal meritorious – Leave to appeal granted

CIVIL PROCEDURE – Time – Extension of time – Motion by appellant seeking extension of time to comply with orders for provision of transcripts, orders, and reasons of English courts – Material of relevance – Material said to already have been in possession of solicitor – Material not responsive and ought to have been obtained prior to hearing – Extension granted but appellant to pay costs of motion

APPEALS – Further evidence – Evidence not available at hearing – Evidence of transcripts, orders, and reasons of English courts – Motion not required for Court to have regard to such evidence – No reason to permit other further evidence identified in motion – Motion dismissed with costs

COSTS – Party/Party – Appeals – Equal measure of success and failure for each party on appeal – Appellant improved position but incurred and inflicted unnecessary costs – No order as to costs of appeal and primary proceedings