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Watford Petroleum Limited and Others v Interoil Trading SA and Others, Court of Appeal, 25 September 2003

1 October 2003
The issues

Case Management – over-riding objective – disclosure and inspection of documents – service of witness statements.

The facts

In this commercial case, the Judge granted a Without Notice Application by Watford Petroleum Limited for an Order allowing it to delay providing certain documents until after the exchange of witness statements. Application was made the following day by Interoil to vary the Order. The Judge however upheld the Without Notice Order. Interoil appealed.

The decision

1. The Order was wholly exceptional and unprecedented.

2. The Order contravened the fundamental principle that a party should know the case against it.

3. An Appellate Court would not ordinarily interfere in procedural matters, but could where Directions were wrong in principle

4. CPR 32.4 required that disclosure and inspection of documents precede the service of witness statements. The circumstances of this case did not meet the necessary threshold for making an exceptional Order.

Appeal allowed.

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