Court of Appeal allows document disclosure in English arbitration

XXIV Old Buildings has scored a Court of Appeal victory allowing documents generated for an English arbitration to be disclosed for the purposes of proceedings in New South Wales (NSW) and British Virgin Islands (BVI).

Lord Justice Collins, who led the ruling, said the appeal was of “considerable practical importance relating to confidentiality in national and international arbitration”.

The case concerned a dispute between former Richards Butler partner John Emmott and English-qualified Michael Wilson. Emmott left Richards Butler in 2001 to join BVI-incorporated Michael Wilson & Partners (MWP) to provide legal services to Kazakhstan.

In June 2006 Emmott left MWP and with two former employees joined Temujin International. MWP claimed that Emmott’s actions were part of a scheme to “divert MWP’s business in breach of contract and in breach of trust”.

This led to arbitration in London and court proceedings in England, NSW, BVI, Jersey and Colorado. Emmott sought the arbitration documents as he was concerned fraud allegations that were dropped in London would continue in NSW and BVI.

MWP argued that disclosing the documents was a breach of confidentiality under the arbitration and if it was allowed London would become unattractive for proceedings.

But the judges dismissed the appeal and indicated that any future disputes on the disclosure of documents should be resolved by agreement.

XXIV’s Philip Shepherd QC and Adam Cloherty were instructed by sole practitioner Michael Robinson for Emmott.

Lane & Partners litigation partner Sophie Eyre instructed Andrew Sutcliffe QC and Nicholas Craig of 3 Verulam Buildings for MWP.