PLEAD A DEFENCE PROPERLY OR BE STRUCK OUT: A HIGH COURT CASE CONSIDERED

The case of De Vere Holding Company -v- Belgravia Wealth Management KFT & Ors [2014] (QBD Judge Parkes QC) 15/10/14 was briefly reported on Lawtel today. It contains important observations on the role of pleadings. (This post is based on the Lawtel summary).

THE FACTS

The action was a claim relating to the unlawful soliciting of clients by former employees. Proceedings had been issued, an injunction granted and a speedy trial ordered. One of the defendants had not filed a defence, the others filed documents which contained simple denials.

THE JUDGE’S OBSERVATION ON THE PLEADINGS

  • There had been a complete failure to engage properly with the obligations of pleadings.
  • The respondents had simply filed bald denials without any explanation of their case.
  • They had failed to address crucial issues of how they had been recruited or the specific allegations of solicitation and conspiracy.
  • Without proper compliance with the rules of pleading if was difficult to ascertain what had taken place.
  • There was a strong commercial need for pleadings to comply with the rules.
  • The claimant was entitled to know the defendants’ case. There was a strong commercial imperative to get the allegedly stolen material back.

THE ORDER

Unless defences were filed by a set date then the defendants were debarred from defending the claim insofar as it related to liability and injunctive relief. The would, however, remain subject to disclosure obligations.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PLEADINGS

This brings to mind the observations of Mr Justice Bean in Dil -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2014] EWHC 2184 (QB)

“One of the most important recommendations made by Lord Woolf in his Access to Justice report in 1996 was that pleadings should not be technical documents, and in particular that “the Defence will set out the defendant’s detailed response to the claim and make clear the real issues between the parties”

SEE ALSO

 

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