Multiplex v Bathgate: Legal Riddles and Unsolvable Problems

Mr Justice Fraser’s decision in Multiplex Construction Europe Ltd v Bathgate Realisation Civil Engineering Ltd and Others is one of the more curious decisions you will ever read.

Not that I would particularly encourage anyone to read it. The case necessitated some pretty comprehensive and in-depth legal analysis that means the judgment runs to some 206, fairly dense, paragraphs, and an Appendix; I would challenge even the most avid consumer of legal treatises to read the whole thing in one sitting without their eyes glazing over at some point. Helpfully, my colleague Vijay Bange has already produced a very useful summary of the decision and its legal implications here.

However, the density and depth of the judgment does not mean it is without interest; far from it. In fact I suspect this case will prove to be one of the more fascinating legal tangles the Courts will be asked to unravel this year. This article looks at some of the more curious aspects of this dispute, away from the key aspects of the case. Continue reading “Multiplex v Bathgate: Legal Riddles and Unsolvable Problems”

Is Coronavirus The New Asbestos? Steps For Mitigating Litigation Risk

To mitigate the risk of future mass tort litigation, we look at some practical steps which businesses can take before re-opening their doors

By Sharon Caffrey & Alex Geisler

24.04.2020

This is a hypothetical case study. It’s set in the future, and it’s about a Coronavirus mass tort case. Our trial opens like this:

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I represent the family of Mr Smith. The facts of the case are that he died of Covid-19, and that he was in three commercial locations during the infection window. 1) He went to work 2) He stayed at a hotel 3) He shopped in a store, and these are our three Defendants. Mr Smith travelled alone in his car to these locations, and no-one else in his family was sick before he broke home isolation to go to these places. All three of these Defendants reopened for business to make money, and one of them is where Mr Smith was exposed to the deadly virus. These are the facts of the case, and they are not in dispute.”

Aside from borrowing the cadence from Aaron Sorkin[1], does this sound far-fetched? Well, consider this. Businesses will reopen and people will leave the relative safety of home isolation. Some will get sick, and tragically some will die. The question is not whether there will be litigation, it is what will the ground rules be? So, imagine that you’re a Defendant on this imaginary docket, and ask yourself this, what are my possible defences?

Continue reading “Is Coronavirus The New Asbestos? Steps For Mitigating Litigation Risk”