Shorter trials scheme case keeps costs under control

Carr: judgment within 10 days

A contractual dispute between an oil trader and a biofuels manufacturer has shown the “possibilities for swift and litigation” under the High Court’s shorter trials scheme (STS), according to the barrister acting for the defendant.

Richard Sarll, based at 7 KBW, said the ruling by Mrs Justice Carr followed “one of only a handful of trials” heard under the scheme.

Under the STS, the case is managed by a docketed judge with a trial date fixed for not more than eight months after the case management conference and judgment within six weeks.

The ordinary disclosure order in STS cases is for the production of documents upon which the parties rely. The maximum length of a trial is four days and costs budgeting does not apply.

In her ruling in Vitol SA v Beta Renowable Group SA [2017] EWHC 1734 (Comm), Carr J noted that proceedings were issued in the normal way in September last year, but on 20 January, after an application for summary judgment was withdrawn by the claimant, Mr Justice Blair directed that the claim should proceed under the STS.

Carr J said a two-day hearing was held at the High Court at the end of last month, “with limited disclosure and witness evidence”, and her judgment was handed down within 10 days of the end of the hearing.

Having awarded the claimant, Vittol SA, damages of $352,000 (£273,000), Carr J said total costs of the action for the claimant were estimated to be around £125,000 and for the defendant £63,000 (both excluding VAT).

The High Court heard that Vitol claimed over $651,000, or alternatively almost $352,000, from Beta for loss of profit following non-delivery of a consignment of bio fuels.

Writing on the 7 KBW website, Mr Sarll said the decision “serves as an example of the possibilities for swift and efficient litigation” under the STS.

The High Court approved the first application to transfer a case started in the normal way into the STS in February 2016.


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