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Top Contract Law Cases of 2021 for Scots lawyers

Welcome to our once-a-year summary of 2021’s prime contract regulation scenarios from north and south of the border for Scots attorneys.

Liquidated damages

Triple Position Engineering Inc. v. PTT Community Co Minimal (Supreme Court docket)

The Supreme Court docket confirms that liquidated damages accrue in conditions in which perform is under no circumstances accomplished by a contractor

In Triple Point v. PTT, the Supreme Court fixed uncertainty more than regardless of whether liquidated damages for delay have been payable in respect of is effective which a supplier had not done at the position of termination.

The Supreme Courtroom reversed the Courtroom of Appeal’s final decision, holding that “it is ordinarily to be anticipated that, until the clause obviously gives otherwise, a liquidated damages clause will apply to any period of hold off in completing the work up to, but not past, the day of termination of the agreement”.

The relevant clause provided that liquidated damages were being payable “from the due day for delivery up to the date PTT accepts such work …”. The Supreme Courtroom identified that the words “up to the date PTT accepts this kind of function” have been not a ailment for the award of liquidated damages, relatively they simply specified the date on which liquidated damages would end accruing.  

Entitlement to liquidated damages is for that reason not conditional on the contractor in the end finishing the get the job done, in the absence of this kind of drafting.

The lesson for contract drafters is to prevent any ambiguity by spelling out that liquidated damages accrue right until the date of termination even if completion/acceptance does not manifest.  

Onerous and strange agreement conditions

Blu-Sky Options Restricted v. Be Caring Restricted (Significant Court docket) 

Eco-friendly v. Petfre (Gibraltar) Restricted t/a Betfred (High Court docket)

Phoenix Inside Style Restricted v. Henley Residences Plc (High Court docket)

A warning to carefully take into consideration how unconventional and onerous clauses in conventional conditions are introduced and signposted

In 2021, the courts repeatedly pressured that the additional onerous or uncommon a clause bundled in common conditions is, the far more that requirements to be accomplished to carry the clause to the other party’s attention in purchase for it to be integrated into a contract. 

In Blu-Sky v. Be Caring, an onerous cancellation charge in a contract for the offer of a cellular network support was not validly integrated. The cancellation phrases were being situated, not in the deal which experienced been signed, but in a established of conditions and circumstances referred to in the doc signed. The choose held that the reference in the signed doc was enough to incorporate the phrases in common, but not the onerous cancellation clause which was “cunningly concealed in the center of a dense thicket which none but the most focused could have been predicted to find and extricate”.

In Eco-friendly v. Betfred, the court concluded that a clause in the typical terms relevant to an online betting match excluding legal responsibility in the party of a defect or malfunction did not variety portion of the agreement. Customers were needed to admit their acceptance of the conditions and circumstances by clicking a button on signing up for an account with Betfred. The decide deemed the presentation and signposting of clauses within just Betfred’s phrases and disorders, locating that: “The unhelpful, normally iterative presentation in closely typed decreased-circumstance or numerous paragraphs of cash letters intended that the suitable clauses ended up buried in other components.” It was hence unreasonable to have envisioned Mr Eco-friendly to discover and observe the importance of the exclusion clause.

The presentation of abnormal or onerous exclusion clauses also kinds element of the “reasonableness test” in The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977. In Phoenix v. Henley Households, the court considered an exclusion clause in a deal for interior structure solutions delivering that the seller was less than no legal responsibility underneath its guarantee if the overall price tag of the merchandise had not been paid out by the due date for payment. The court docket concluded that this clause did not satisfy the UCTA reasonableness examination. In thinking about regardless of whether the consumer knew or should fairly to have acknowledged of the existence and extent of the exclusion clause, the judge uncovered that: “This evidently abnormal clause is tucked absent in the undergrowth of the Regular Conditions and Ailments without having any certain highlighting of the implications of even the slightest delay in payment.” 

The concept is obvious – if strange or onerous clauses are to be relied upon, they should be introduced to the other contracting party’s notice through ideal strategies this sort of as distinct signposting and/or visually highlighting the pertinent terms.

Superior religion

Dwyer (British isles Franchising) Ltd v. Fredbar Ltd (Higher Courtroom)

Van Oord British isles Ltd v. Dragados Uk Ltd (Internal Dwelling, Court docket of Session)

Scots regulation little by little embraces good faith in commercial contracts

Superior faith in professional contracts has been a sizzling subject matter in the English courts in the latest several years. Duties to act in very good faith have been implied into particular agreements requiring a superior diploma of cooperation, belief and loyalty, generally termed “relational contracts”.  

Functions performing exercises a contractual discretion have also been discovered to be issue to a responsibility not to act in a method that is arbitrary, capricious or irrational (frequently referred to as “the Braganza obligation”, getting been founded by the Supreme Courtroom in the situation of Braganza v. BP Shipping and delivery Minimal in 2015). For example, in Dwyer v. Fredbar, the court docket held that a contractual ideal to declare a force majeure function in response to COVID-19 disruption need to not be exercised arbitrarily, capriciously or irrationally. 

There has been minimal consideration of the function of very good religion in Scots legislation in new a long time which helps make the Inner House’s feedback in Van Oord British isles Ltd v. Dragados Uk Ltd particularly attention-grabbing. This scenario concerned the correct interpretation of an NEC3 deal for the dredging of Nigg Bay, element of the Aberdeen Harbour enlargement task. The court docket deemed clause 10.1 of the NEC3 common sort, which contained a need to act “in a spirit of mutual rely on and co-procedure”. In giving the impression of the court docket, Lord Woolman commented that this clause “reflects and reinforces the basic principle of fantastic faith in contracts”.

The recognition of a normal theory of great faith in contracts by our enchantment court is a notable advancement. It is very likely to be explored and examined in coming a long time by litigating events who have endured loss as a consequence of what could be regarded as commercially unacceptable conduct by yet another contracting celebration. 

The other lesson from Van Oord is that the courts will give tooth to convey contract conditions that contains very good faith requirements such as a obligation to act in a spirit of mutual have confidence in and co-operation. In Lord Woolman’s terms, this sort of terms are “not merely an avowal of aspiration”.  


Wilmington Have confidence in SP Companies (Dublin) Ltd v. Spicejet Ltd (Large Courtroom) 

Salam Air SAOC v. Latam Airlines Groups SA (Large Court)

Financial institution of New York Mellon (Intercontinental) Ltd v. Cine-British isles Ltd & other people (High Courtroom)

Stress is really unlikely to rescue contracting parties struggling to satisfy payment obligations as a end result of the impact of COVID-19 constraints

The doctrine of disappointment provides a contract to an conclusion where an event takes place immediately after the formation of the deal, rendering the deal physically or commercially extremely hard to fulfil or building the obligation to execute radically distinctive. The courts handle this as a large threshold to meet.

Latest selections of the English courts illustrate how challenging it is to effectively argue aggravation.

In Wilmington Belief v. Spicejet, a stress declare in relation to the lease of aircraft was turned down. The court held that suspension of use of the aircraft (partly due to COVID-19 constraints and partly because of to a determination to floor particular products of aircraft following incidents) for close to 10{e421c4d081ed1e1efd2d9b9e397159b409f6f1af1639f2363bfecd2822ec732a} of the lease time period did not amount to annoyance. 

Spicejet follows on from the scenario of Salam Air v. Latam Airways where a claim that the lease of an plane was frustrated by the grounding of flights in response to COVID-19 was likewise turned down.  The court docket concluded that disappointment did not manifest for the reason that the purpose of the lease was just to provide possession of the plane. There was no typical purpose to function the leased aircrafts commercially.

The court in Lender of New York Mellon v. Cine-British isles considered the doctrine of irritation in the context of a claim by the landlords of commercial premises for payment of lease. The tenants adopted a inventive argument that their leases experienced been “quickly discouraged” because of to COVID-19 constraints, the effect of which was to justification non-performance (the payment of rent) instead than convey the lease to an finish. This argument was turned down, with the courtroom concluding that there was no these types of matter as temporary stress. 

Agreement interpretation

Parks of Hamilton (Holdings) Ltd v. Scottish Football Affiliation Ltd (Outer Property, Court of Session)

Coal Pension Properties Confined v. Technip British isles Confined (Outer Property, Court docket of Session) 

The purposive tactic to contract interpretation prevails in Scotland 

Our reviews of the prime agreement law circumstances of 2019 and 2020 highlighted the Internal House’s marketing of a purposive approach to contract interpretation in Scotland, with commercial frequent feeling enjoying a vital role.  This method has a noteworthy distinction in emphasis from the assistance of the Supreme Court and Court of Charm in England, exactly where the language employed by the contract drafters is recognized as the primary thought.

The purposive approach is now well established in Scotland, with an example of its application witnessed in the Inner House’s interpretation of the SFA’s Article content of Association in Parks of Hamilton v. SFA. The Lord President summed up the correct method to deal interpretation as being “a agreement must be construed objectively, contextually, purposively, and in a fashion which accords with commercial prevalent feeling”.

We also described last calendar year that Outer House professional judges appeared to look at commercial popular feeling as having a far more limited function than that promoted by the Internal House. Adoption of the purposive tactic is now filtering through to the initially occasion courts. In Coal Pension Homes Confined v. Technip United kingdom Limited, Lord Tyre followed the Inner House’s assistance in stating that the court docket must adopt a purposive solution in deciphering provisions in a lease, obtaining regard to the “elementary goals that fair folks in the parties’ place would have had in intellect”, as well as professional common perception.

The problem with these kinds of statements is that, when disputes arise, it turns into complicated for attorneys to predict whether the precise language picked by the events will be regarded by a courtroom as supplying the principal indicator of a contract’s indicating or other elements such as the over-all intent of the agreement and business typical perception.  

Obligatory ADR terms 

Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners v. McLaughlin & Harvey Limited (Interior House, Court docket of Session)

Higher Glasgow Wellbeing Board v. Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd (Outer Household, Court docket of Session)

Obligatory dispute resolution provisions demanding adjudication or arbitration do not prohibit commencing courtroom action to prevent the prescription of claims 

In the Inner House scenario of Fraserburgh Harbour Commissioners v. McLaughlin & Harvey Confined and the Outer Dwelling case of Greater Glasgow Overall health Board v. Multiplex Construction Europe Minimal, the courts confirmed that contractual conditions requiring disputes to be decided by way of adjudication or arbitration do not completely preclude the courts’ jurisdiction.

A court action might be commenced to stop the operation of prescription or in get to secure diligence on the dependence of an motion. The acceptable course of motion would then be for the courtroom motion to be sisted pending summary of the adjudication or arbitration process.