The High Court (Richard Spearman QC) has refused the claimant’s (C) request to transfer an intellectual property claim out of the Shorter Trials Scheme (STS).
C had voluntarily started the claim in the STS, and there is no express provision in PD 57AB for a claimant to apply to have a case removed from the STS. Nonetheless, the deputy judge was satisfied that, as a matter of principle, he had the power to transfer the case out of the STS under CPR 3.1(2)(m) (citing Family Mosaic Home Ownership Ltd v Peer Real Estate Ltd  EWHC 257 (Ch)). He observed that if such a power did not exist, there was “a very real and regrettable danger” that claims started in the STS inappropriately, without the defendant objecting, would have to remain in the STS, no matter how unsuitable that might be. Here, however, the deputy judge considered that there were case management benefits for both the parties and the court, if the case remained in the STS.
Liability had already been determined and the proceedings had reached the remedies and quantum stage. C submitted that the complexity of the case, the likely volume of disclosure, the estimated hearing length and the general constraints on length of witness statements in the STS meant that the STS was not a suitable forum going forward.
However, the deputy judge considered that C’s main concerns about the case continuing in the STS could all be addressed. He agreed with C’s time estimate, saw good reason for removing the 25-page limitation on witness statements and noted that neither party sought a hearing before April 2020 (the earliest available date for a five-day trial). It was desirable and appropriate for the benefits of using the STS (stringency of controls and economy of procedures) to apply to the case, for both parties’ benefit and for the sake of proper and efficient use of court time.
While this case ultimately remained in the STS, it is perhaps worth noting the deputy judge’s observation that split trial cases do not very readily fit into PD 57AB. He adopted a pragmatic approach to make this split trial “work”, but made it clear that his ruling had not resolved that underlying issue.
Case: Sprint Electric Ltd v Buyer’s Dream Ltd and another  EWHC 1853 (Ch) (16 April 2019) (Richard Spearman QC, sitting as a deputy High Court judge). (This judgment has only recently become available.)