Commercial Court considers public policy arguments in Novoship and Burford Capital breach of confidence claim

Jonathan Gaisman QC
Keir Howie

Maroil Trading Inc v. Cally Shipholdings Inc and others [2019] EWHC 2949 (Comm)

The Commercial Court has given judgment in Maroil Trading Inc v. Cally Shipholdings Inc and others [2019] EWHC 2949 (Comm). The proceedings are at an early stage, and involve high-profile allegations that Daniel Hall, a senior executive of litigation funder Burford Capital, traded confidential documents in return for a sex tape. The claim has been brought by companies owned by Venezuelan businessman Wilmer Ruperti, which are alleged to have become the targets of other litigation as a result of the trade. The Defendants, Novoship (UK) Ltd and associated companies, had formerly engaged Mr Hall to investigate Mr Ruperti’s assets. They deny all liability to Mr Ruperti’s companies, and have also brought third party proceedings against Mr Hall and Burford in respect of the incident.

In the decision just handed down, Mr Justice Teare has refused an application by the Claimants to enter summary judgment in respect of the claims, and has given the Defendants permission to advance a range of further arguments at trial. Amongst other matters, the proceedings raise questions as to the scope of the long-standing rule that there is no confidence in matters of iniquity or fraud. The Court has held that there is an arguable case that Mr Hall’s disclosure of confidential material was permitted on grounds of public policy, notwithstanding the nature of the trade, if the Defendants can establish at trial that it revealed serious wrongdoing on the part of the Claimants.

Jonathan Gaisman Q.C. and Keir Howie acted for the Defendants.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.

Date added: November 11th, 2019


Area of Expertise

Civil fraud
Commercial litigation