On 20 February 2015 the Commercial Court (Leggatt J) emphasised the need for concise documents for the court and the correct nature and content of statements of case.
The case concerned allegations that the defendants conspired to induce the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) to investigate the claimants on a false basis by making statements to the SFO which the defendants did not believe to be true.
Leggatt J held as follows:
- "Statements of case must be concise. They must plead only material facts, meaning those necessary for the purpose of formulating a cause of action or defence, and not background facts or evidence. Still less should they contain arguments, reasons or rhetoric".
- According to the Commercial Court Guide (8th edition, 2009), statements of case should be limited to 25 pages in length (with extensions to be granted by the court exceptionally and based on good reasons provided by the requesting party). Contentious headings, abbreviations and definitions should not be used. Particulars of primary allegations should be stated as particulars and not as primary allegations. Substantial factual information or lengthy particulars relied on should be set out in schedules or appendices. Evidence should not be included.
- "The particulars of claim which have been served in the present case flout all these principles. They are 94 pages in length. They include background facts, evidence and polemic in a way which makes it hard to identify the material facts and complicates, instead of simplifying, the issues. The phrasing is often not just contentious but tendentious".
- "...unless adverse costs orders are made in cases of flagrant non-compliance, practitioners who are well aware of the principles of pleading and the provisions of the Commercial Court Guide will continue to overlook them, as happened here. In my view, the appropriate order in this case, and the order which I will make, is that the particulars of claim are struck out, the costs of drafting the particulars of claim are disallowed, and fresh particulars of claim no longer than 45 pages and otherwise complying with Appendix 4 of the Commercial Court Guide should be served within 21 days".