Roman Abramovich won his $4.7bn court battle against his former mentor and business partner, Boris Berezovsky, who had claimed Abramovich had intimidated him into selling shares and sought damages. Due to the nature of the factual issues the claim relied heavily on the oral evidence of Berezovsky, which was deemed to lack the requisite level of objectivity and truthfulness.
The presiding judge, Gloster J, criticised the “heavily lawyered” approach to the case. The resulting over-zealous examining of facts “led to some skepticism on the court’s part as to whether the lengthy witness statements reflected more the industrious work product of the lawyers, than the actual evidence of the witnesses.”
Barclays bank has suffered another blow as it was revealed that the SFO are to investigate payments the bank made to investor Qatar Holding LLC. This follows its fine for manipulating Libor and a separate investigation into mis-selling interest rate swaps to small businesses. Amongst all this it was announced on Thursday that Barclays had appointed Antony Jenkins as the new head of retail and business banking. Jenkins admitted that the bank had recently made “serious mistakes” and pledged major changes to its culture.
Protective costs orders are to be introduced into environmental judicial review claims from December 2012, meaning courts will be able to cap the extent to which the losing party would be liable for costs. The government intends to cap the defendant’s liability at £35,000 and an individual claimant’s at £5,000 if permission is refused (£10,000 for organisations). The scheme has been criticised as potentially removing a deterrent to serial and vexatious litigation.
The Ministry of Justice announced that squatting in residential buildings will become a criminal offence from 1 September 2012. Housing minister Grant Shapps said:
“For too long, hardworking people have faced long legal battles to get their homes back from squatters, and repair bills reaching into the thousands when they finally leave.
No longer will there be so-called “squatters rights”. Instead, from next week, we’re tipping the scales of justice back in favour of the homeowner and making the law crystal clear: entering a property with the intention of squatting will be a criminal offence. And by making this change, we can slam shut the door on squatters once and for all.”
The Law Society argued that squatting was a rare problem, and introducing new offences when there was already a range of existing offences would be disproportionate and counterproductive, and that the police do not have the resources to enforce the new offences. A spokesperson said:
“Residential occupiers are already adequately protected from trespass under the Criminal Law Act 1977, and for that reason we, along with the Metropolitan Police, the Magistrates’ Association and many others, did not see the need for the introduction of a new criminal offence for squatting.”
The offence will be punishable by a prison term of up to six months and/or a maximum fine of £5000.