Merits of success found to be irrelevant

In the slightly unusual case HRH Prince Abdulaziz v Apex Global Management Ltd and another ([2014] UKSC 64), the Supreme Court has dismissed an appeal against a Court of Appeal decision that upheld several case management decisions.

The Supreme Court commented that the strength of a party’s case on the ultimate merits is generally irrelevant when it comes to case management issues and that the Judge at first instance and the Court of Appeal were therefore right to consider that a direction requiring personal signing of a disclosure statement reflected normal practice. Read on for details as to why the personal signature didn’t take place.

With the possible exception of parties who had such a strong case that they would be entitled to summary judgment, the Court found it hard to see why the strength of a party’s case should affect the nature or the enforcement of directions and case management decisions. Furthermore, and I think quite sensibly, it would be unsustainable for the court to have to assess the strength of the parties’ respective cases every time it was considering the imposition or enforcement of a case management sanction.

This case is unusual, not only because of some of the underlying facts and the appellant prince’s argument that, as a member of the Saudi royal family, he was precluded by royal convention from signing a disclosure statement personally, but because it is rare for the Supreme Court to get involved with case management decisions. Indeed, all of the Judges agreed that the Supreme Court should be hesitant about interfering with Court of Appeal guidance on case management, and in some ways it seems surprising that this case had ever reached the Supreme Court.

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