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Connelly V. Rtz Corporation Notes

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This is an extract of our Connelly V. Rtz Corporation document, which we sell as part of our Conflict of Laws BCL Notes collection written by the top tier of Oxford students.

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FACTS The plaintiff in the action is Edward Connelly, who is domiciled in Scotland. In 1971,
when he was 21 years old, he went to South Africa. For a period of about five and a
half years, between 1977 and 1982, he was employed by Rossing Uranium Ltd.
("R.U.L."), which carried on the business of mining uranium at Rossing in Namibia.
In 1986 it was discovered that he was suffering from cancer of the larynx. He
subsequently underwent a laryngectomy, and has since breathed through a tube in his
throat. He claims that his cancer was the result of inhaling silica uranium and its
radioactive decay products at the mine. R.U.L. is a subsidiary of the first defendant, the R.T.Z. Corporation Plc. ("R.T.Z."),
which is an English company with its registered office in London…. On 15 December
1993 the plaintiff obtained a legal aid certificate to bring proceedings against
R.T.Z. in England. On 2 October 1995 the plaintiff's solicitors informed the defendants that the plaintiff
would not proceed with a petition for leave to appeal to this House; but that the
solicitors had entered into a conditional fee agreement with the plaintiff, and that
therefore a summons would be issued seeking the lifting of the stay. Section 31(1)(b) of the Legal Aid Act provided: "Except as expressly provided by this Act or regulations under it . . . (b) the
rights conferred by this Act on a person receiving advice, assistance or
representation under it shall not affect the rights or liabilities of other parties to
the proceedings or the principles on which the discretion of any court or
tribunal is normally exercised." The proceedings arise out of an application made by the defendant company to stay
the proceedings in England. HOLDING
LORD GOFF Application of the Legal Aid Act Provision The suggestion is that the subsection has the effect that, in the case of an application
for a stay of proceedings on the principle of forum non conveniens, the fact that the
plaintiff is in receipt of legal aid in this country cannot be taken into account because
the subsection provides that the receipt of legal aid "shall not affect … the principles
on which the discretion of any court or tribunal is normally exercised." I feel bound to
say that I find it surprising that the subsection should have this effect. I can fully
understand that, in matters arising in the course of legal proceedings in this country,
the fact that one party is in receipt of legal aid should not be allowed to distort the
legal process, whether as regards the rights or liabilities of other parties, or as regards
the principles on which judicial discretions are exercised.

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