The Competition Appeal Tribunal hearing involving Agents’ Mutual and Gascoigne Halman, set to start tomorrow, has had a last-minute twist with the chairman ruling that additional documents could not be submitted by the defendant after the agreed deadline.
The hearing - scheduled to run from tomorrow for an estimated 12 days - is regarded as as a test of the so-called ‘one other portal only’ rule introduced by OnThe Market, the portal operated by Agents’ Mutual.
In a ruling posted online, the chairman, the Honourable Mr Justice Marcus Smith says that a pre-trial review (PTR) held on December 15 dealt with various applications from Agents’ Mutual (the claimant) and Gascoigne Halman (the defendant).
Further clarifications were submitted and received by the parties before Christmas.
However, the defendant’s representatives wrote to the tribunal on January 16 this year asserting that “a number of key questions remain unresolved” despite earlier correspondence; it wished these to be resolved ahead of the tribunal.
“I am not persuaded (although I do not wish to close the Defendant’s legal team from so contending at trial) that the matters on which the Defendant seeks further information are ‘key’ and I make no order that the Claimant answer them” writes Honourable Mr Justice Marcus Smith in response.
The online posting also refers to a second application by the defendant refers to “specific documents which are absent from the Claimant’s disclosure” and on which the defendant seeks further explanation. The chairman’s decision is that these documents need not be made available or explained ahead of the tribunal.
“At the PTR, it appeared to me that the Claimant was (as one would expect with solicitors on the record) proceeding responsibly with its disclosure obligations, and I have no doubt that this will continue. It should be noted that the chronological run of documents in the trial bundles amounts to some 18 lever-arch files” the Honourable Mr Justice Marcus Smith writes.
The full posting can be seen here.