CHEP. When employees’ alleged conspiracy ‘relates to’ contract of employment.

CHEP Equipment Pooling BV v ITS Ltd & Ors [2021] EWHC 2485 (Comm) concerns in the main when a claim between two parties who are in a relation of employment, ‘relates to’ that employment contract. (In the case concerned, leading to lack of jurisdiction against one of the defendants).

At issue is whether 3 former senior employees had essentially defrauded claimant by negotiating on its behalf, price-inflated audit and supply agreements with corporations which those employees (in)directly owned and /or controlled. Causes of action are breach of fiduciary duty; dishonest assistance of the breaches of fiduciary duty by the other former employees; and unlawful means conspiracy.

Whether any of these claims engage A22 jurisdiction needs to be assessed viz each claim separately: [44]: Cuneo Resources NV and others v Daskalakis and others [2019] EWHC 87 (Comm).  Among others Bosworth was discussed in the subsequent analysis. After reviewing ia the employment history of defendant with the claimant, and the bond between the alleged dishonesty and the employment contract,  Jacobs J concludes [107]

the claims relate to Mr de Laender’s contract of employment, and also …the connection between Mr de Laender’s contract and the conduct relied upon is material. It cannot be described as tenuous, or a small part of the picture, or simply part of the history. I also consider that the legal basis of the claims can reasonably be regarded as a breach of his contract, so that it is indispensable to consider the contract in order to resolve the matters in dispute.

Obiter the judge reviews locus delicti commissi and locus damni under A7(2). For Handlungsort, Jacobs J holds that the claimant has the better of the argument that that is located in England: particularly seeing as the main alleged conspirator was domiciled in England at the time the various strands of the action materialised. For locus damni – Erfolgort, the conclusion [133] is one of Mozaik per Shevill, particularly in view of a corporate reorganisation (incl a move to England) which occurred midway through the conspiracy.

Geert.

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