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Court: High Court

High Court rules service of Claim Form as ineffective, as served late.

Piepenbrock v Associated Newspapers Limited [2020] EWHC 1708 (QB)

This case discusses issues that can arise when a claimant leaves service of a Claim Form until the last moment. The Claimant issued an Application Notice seeking (1) relief from sanction under CPR 3.9; (2) correction of an error of procedure under CPR 3.10; (3) an order extending time for service of the Claim Form under CPR 7.6; (4) an order for service by an alternative means/at an alternative place under CPR 6.15; (5) an order dispensing with service of the Claim Form under CPR 6.16; and (6) summary judgment pursuant to CPR 24.

Held: the Defendants are entitled to the declaration that service of the Claim Form had been ineffective. The Claim Form was not served during its period of validity. In consequence, the Court has no jurisdiction over the Claimant’s claim. It follows that I should also formally dismiss the Claimant’s application for summary judgment.

Chris Buttler was involved in this case.

Challenges to major rail franchise procurements rejected

Stagecoach East Midlands Trains Ltd (and Ors) V The Secretary of State for Transport [2020] EWHC 1568 (TCC)

On 9 April 2019, the Department had informed Stagecoach and Arriva, and a joint venture between Stagecoach, SNCF and Virgin, that their bids had been rejected on the basis that they did not comply with the pensions requirements of the Department for rail employees.  Eight cases were then brought, four judicial reviews and four claims for damages based on EU law, leading to a very complex and extensive disclosure exercise and an expedited trial of the pensions issues.  The case also involved an expedited application by the Defendant for summary judgment and an appeal to the Court of Appeal in November 2019.  

The case involving Arriva was settled in January 2020, shortly before the trial, but on 18 June 2020, Stuart-Smith J ruled in favour of the Department on all of the pension issues, finding that it had been a commercial decision by Stagecoach and its partners to reject the Department’s pension requirements and that the Secretary of State had been legally entitled to disqualify them for non-compliance.

High Court finds prominent US businessman committed seriously fraudulent conduct in a multimillion pound fraud and conspiracy claim

Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) v Farhad Azima [2020] EWHC 1327 (Ch)

The Ras Al Khaimah Investment Authority (RAKIA) is the investment authority of Ras Al Khaimah (RAK) one of the seven Emirates making up the United Arab Emirates. Mr Azima became involved in various actual and proposed commercial joint ventures with RAKIA and other RAK entities. They included a joint venture between his company HeavyLift International Airlines FZC and RAK Airways for the establishment of a pilot training academy in RAK, the intended sale of a luxury hotel in Georgia owned by one of RAKIA’s subsidiaries and a proposed joint venture involving the provision to RAK of aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance services.

Mr Azima and HeavyLift entered into a settlement agreement with RAKIA in respect of claims made by Mr Azima and HeavyLift against RAKIA in connection with the pilot training academy joint venture. Pursuant to the Settlement Agreement RAKIA paid Mr Azima the sum of $2.6 million. RAKIA then advanced three claims against Mr Azima including that Mr Azima fraudulently misrepresented the amount of HeavyLift’s investment in the training academy joint venture and that this misrepresentation induced RAKIA to enter into the Settlement Agreement and pay Mr Azima $2.6 million

The Court held that Mr Azima, a prominent US businessman with many years’ experience in the aviation industry, committed “seriously fraudulent conduct” against RAKIA including bribery, making fraudulent misrepresentations, creating sham documents and participating in an unlawful conspiracy to misappropriate large sums of money from RAKIA. The court ordered Mr Azima to pay damages of more than $4 million. The court also rejected Mr Azima’s allegation that RAKIA was responsible for hacking the documents on which the claim was based.

High Court refuses reporting restriction in a defamation claim about an alleged sexual assault.

CWD v Nevitt, Nevitt and Nevitt [2020] EWHC 1289 (QB)

This claim involves the second defendant’s allegation that the claimant raped her and the first defendant’s allegation that the claimant sexually assaulted her. The claimant denies the allegations and brought a claim for defamation, misuse of private information and harassment in respect of social media publications by the defendants, some of which identified the claimant as the subject of their allegations. At a pre-action hearing, without notice to the defendants, the court directed that all parties be anonymised but refused the claimant’s application for an interim privacy injunction to restrain the publications.

Held: This judgment determined the first and second defendants’ subsequent application to lift their anonymity and the claimant’s application for a reporting restriction order under s.11 of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 that neither he nor the defendants should be identified in any publications. By consent, the judge ordered that the first and second defendant’s anonymity should be lifted because they expressly waived their right to anonymity pursuant to s.1-2 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992 and there was no longer any risk of jigsaw identification. There was accordingly no jurisdiction for a s.11 order in respect of the defendants.

The judge refused to make a s.11 reporting restriction order to prevent identification of the claimant. She concluded that, as a s.11 order was not an interim injunction, the rule in Bonnard v Perryman should not apply, but noted the close parallel between the effect of an interim injunction and of the reporting restriction sought. She applied the test in s.12 of the Human Rights Act 1998 because the order sought was relief which, if granted, might affect the exercise of the right to freedom of expression. Weighing the respective Convention rights, she concluded that it was not necessary to make the order and could not say that it was more likely that not that the claimant would succeed in obtaining a final order at trial.

High Court rules that some allegations made by the Duchess of Sussex in proceedings against Associated Newspapers Ltd can be struck out

Sussex v Associated Newspapers Ltd [2020] EWHC 1058 (Ch)

Following a hearing of a pre-trial application, the defendant sought to strike out some of the allegations in the claimant’s Particulars of Claim for misuse of private information and breach of data protection rights. In the course of the hearing, the application was expanded to take in parts of the Reply as well.

The defendant targeted three aspects of the claimant’s case: allegations that (1) the defendant acted dishonestly, and in bad faith; (2) the defendant deliberately dug up or stirred up conflict between the claimant and her father; and (3) the claimant was distressed by the defendant’s “obvious agenda of publishing intrusive or offensive stories about [her] intended to portray her in a false and damaging light”. The grounds of attack on each aspect of the case were that the allegations are irrelevant in law, or inadequately particularised, or that it would be disproportionate to litigate the issues raised so that they should be excluded from the scope of the case on case management grounds.

The Court held that all three categories of allegation should be struck out of the Particulars of Claim, and the Further Information about it. The Court also agreed that passages of the Reply should be struck out. Some of these conclusions were however without prejudice to the claimant’s right to come back with an application for permission to make amendments that comply with the applicable law and principles.