Monday 27 April 2015

Jersey: arbitration and the unfair prejudice remedy

Last week a copy of the Jersey Court of Appeal judgment Consolidated Resources Armenia v Global Gold Consolidated Resources Limited [2015] JCA061 was published (the judgment was handed down in March). Amongst the questions considered was one concerning the operation of the unfair prejudice remedy found in Article 141 of the Companies (Jersey) Law 1991 (the equivalent of section 994 of the UK Companies Act 2006). The judgment is noteworthy because the court adopted the approach taken in England, by the Court of Appeal in Fulham Football Club (1987) Ltd v Richards [2011] EWCA Civ 855, [2012] Ch 333], and held that there was no reason of public policy for holding that either an unfair prejudice claim or a claim for a just and equitable winding-up were incapable of arbitration. Bompas JA, delivering the judgment of the court, noted (at para 89):
There are many good reasons why the shareholders in a company may agree to refer future or present disagreements to arbitration. They may wish to maintain confidentiality to preserve commercial secrets, or to avoid tarnishing the public reputation of the company perhaps to protect the price of the company’s shares on a stock exchange. They may wish to have a method of achieving a speedier resolution than would be achievable through the courts. There is no public interest in denying parties the opportunity to do so unless there are third parties rights that cannot be protected in the arbitration. The duty of the courts is to hold the parties to the agreement they have reached".

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