Red flags to look for when spotting financial abuse
Lady Christine Brownlie (Claimant) v Four Seasons Holdings Incorporated (Defendant) and FS Cairo (Nile Plaza) LLC (Proposed Defendant)
Kingsley Napley LLP acts for the Claimant in this case. In July 2019, we made an application to correct/substitute the name of the Defendant pursuant to CPR 17 and/or CPR 19. The need to do this arose because of a long delay by those representing the Defendant in identifying the correct company within the Four Seasons Group to be named as Defendant.
Mr Justice Nicol found in favour of Lady Brownlie, and accordingly she now has permission to amend her case, so as to abandon her claim against the current Defendant, and to proceed only against the Proposed Defendant.
This is a long running case, which arises from the death of the late Sir Ian Brownlie QC, who was killed in a road traffic accident in Egypt in January 2010.
The accident happened when the deceased and his family were on a “safari” excursion tour which had been arranged by the Four Seasons Hotel at Nile Plaza, where the party were staying.
Sir Ian’s widow, Lady Brownlie, brought proceedings in the High Court in London, naming Four Seasons Holdings Incorporated, the company at the head of the Four Seasons Group, as the Defendant.
The case raised arguments about the jurisdictional gateways for bringing an accident claim into the English Courts. It passed through the High Court and the Court of Appeal, and in the summer of 2017 it arrived in the Supreme Court.
The central issues were still the jurisdictional gateways, but the Supreme Court took the unusual step of ordering the Defendant to provide further disclosure concerning the correct corporate entity within the Four Seasons Group to be named as Defendant. From the very outset Kingsley Napley had asked for clarification on this, as is normal in personal injury claims, but for reasons which remain unclear, the Defendant declined to cooperate. The Defendant’s conduct was described by the Supreme Court as “ducking and weaving”, and made it very clear that the Defendant should provide evidence to determine the point once and for all.
The Defendant’s disclosure revealed that another Four Seasons company, FS Cairo (Nile Plaza) LLC was the company responsible for the management of the hotel, and was thus the correct Defendant
The Supreme Court then discontinued the appeal, but before doing so it:
made some obiter dicta comments concerning the findings that it would have made had the correct Defendant been named in the proceedings; and
gave orders for directions to allow the Claimant to apply to the High Court for permission to amend/substitute the name of the Defendant.
The Claimant’s applications were heard in a three day hearing before Mr Justice Nicol in July of 2019.
This was a resounding victory for the Claimant, who was also awarded her costs of the application.
However, the terms of the order was the subject of some very detailed submissions. In essence, the Defendant sought permission for a “leap frog” appeal directly back to the Supreme Court, so that its obiter comments might be revisited.
Nicol J. refused this request, but he did give permission for the Defendant to appeal to the Court of Appeal on 2 of 4 requested points, they are as follows:
Lady Brownlie has been litigating this case for 9 years. During that time she has gone to the very top of the appeals process, come back down to the High Court, and is now going back up to the Court of Appeal – possibly to be followed by another hearing in the Supreme Court. All of this is more or less simply to decide whether the English Courts have jurisdiction.
The Brownlies chose the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo because they believed it to be owned and managed by a major international company, and that if anything went wrong, it would be relatively straightforward to seek redress. This Claim has shown that evidently, that it is not the case. Something did go wrong – Sir Ian Brownlie was killed in a road traffic accident that was not his fault, and a legal claim that should have been resolved quite quickly has once again been put on hold pending a further appeal.
Terrence Donovan is the head of the Medical Negligence & Personal Injury team at Kingsley Napley LLP. If you have been affected by any of the issues discussed in this blog, you can contact him at email@example.com. Alternatively, you can contact us on: 020 7814 1200 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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