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Langtree Group Plc v Richardson, Court of Appeal, 14 October 2004

18 October 2004
The issues

Unless Order – Failure To Comply With Court Order – Whether Claim Should Be Struck Out

The facts

The Claimant claimed monies due under a lease and a surety. The Defendant was ordered on 19th September 2003 to provide a disclosure list by 1st October 2003 under pain of a striking out provision “without further order”. The disclosure list was sent but failed to comply with CPR Rule 3.5 in that it was not signed. On 6th October a signed list was sent. A Claimant had in the meanwhile requested copies of the listed documents. The action came to Trial in November 2003 and at the Trial the Claimant asked the Judge to rule that the claim was struck out because the unless order had not been complied with. The Trial Judge refused and carried on with the Trial in which Judgment was given in favour of the Defendant.

The Claimant appealed. The Claimant argued that no action had been needed on its part to strike the claim out since the unless order had referred specifically to striking out “without further order”. The Defendant argued that the Claimant should have applied to have the claim struck out.

The decision

The Claimant’s argument that there was no necessity to make a formal application in the light of the terms of the unless order were doubtful. However, because of the way in which the Claimant had acted it was unnecessary to decide that issue. The Claimant had insisted on his entitlement to documents and had allowed the Defendant to incur the cost of preparing for Trial. Moreover as far as any breach of the unless order could be identified there was no prejudice caused to the Claimant as a list had been served and he had been fully entitled to obtain copies of the documents.

The Judge was not wrong to exercise his discretion in the manner that he did.

Appeal dismissed.

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