On appeal from: [2018] EWCA Civ 1732

This appeal arose out of a claim by the appellant under a guarantee of a contract, to charter a vessel which was met with a defence from the respondent that the contract was procured by bribery and that the guarantee was therefore unenforceable. The bribery allegation was based on evidence of confessions that the appellant alleged were obtained by torture and therefore inadmissible.

At trial, Knowles J gave judgment in favour of the appellant, finding that there was no bribery and that he could not rule out torture. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the judge’s decision was unsustainable and sent the case back for reconsideration by a different judge. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court seeking restoration of the judge’s judgment.

The issue on the appeal was whether the Court of Appeal’s criticisms were justified and warranted remitting the case for fresh determination. The Supreme Court unanimously allowed the appeal and restored the judgment in favour of the appellant. The Court held, inter alia, that the Commercial Court’s approach was logical; it could not be said that the conclusion on bribery was unreasonable or unsustainable; and the Commercial Court’s failure to consider the evidence systematically was not an error of law.

For judgment, please download: Judgment

For Court’s press summary, please download: Press summary

For a non-PDF version of the judgment, please visit: BAILII

To watch the hearing please visit: Supreme Court website: 15 June 2020 morning and afternoon session and 16 June 2020 morning and afternoon session

To watch the judgment summary, please visit: Supreme Court website: 5 August 2020