Court of Appeal Success for Head of Trinity's Business & Property Team

On 3rd July 2018, Head of Trinity's Business and Property Barristers and recently appointed Recorder, Simon Goldberg, led by Andrew Stafford Q.C., represented the Respondents at the Court of Appeal at a hearing to determine whether a Claimant, who had successfully obtained a judgement on liability, could "expand" its claim on an assessment of damages.

In Personal Management Solutions Ltd and another v Brake Bros Ltd and others [2018] EWCA Civ 1635, before Lord Justice Longmore, Lord Justice Peter Jackson and Lady Justice Asplin DBE, the Court of Appeal held that the Claimant had not sought to exceed the scope of the pleaded damages at an assessment of damages hearing as the Claimant's pleaded case had already contemplated the relevant head of claim.

The appeal followed the decisions of Master Davison and subsequently Whipple J. The Appellant Defendants argued that the claim should be limited to about £18,000, however, the Respondent Claimant had significantly increased the value of the original claim at the assessment of damages hearing on the basis that it should recover for its loss of a contract with a third party caused by the Defendants' misuse of confidential information. This was rejected by Master Davison, a decision that was set aside by Whipple J, leading to the appeal.

The Court of Appeal found that even if the Master's decision was a case management decision, in this case it had been reached "under two substantial misapprehensions", namely that "there was no "enlargement" of the damages claim; it had been there all the time". Further, "no terms of reference had been set for the assessment; if they had been, no dispute about what was properly within or outside the reference could have occurred". Therefore the Master's decision had to be set aside.

Lord Justice Longmore stated that he did not see a decision about the scope of a hearing as a case management decision in relation to which there was a high hurdle for an appeal. Such a decision could have a major impact on the litigation.

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