In (1) Albert John Martin Abela (2) Albert Jm Abela Srl (3) Albert Jm Abela Catering & Interactive Systems Ltd v (1) Hammonds Suddards (A Firm) (2) Hammonds Suddards Edge (A Firm) (3) Hammonds (A Firm) (4) Kathleen Jean Stuart Haan (5) Christopher Francis Haan – Lawtel 9.12.08 the Applicant individual and associated companies applied to strike out allegations made in the amended defence of the Respondents and applied for further information and disclosure.
The Chancery court held that, in considering a claim's "real prospect of success", there should be no "mini trial" that would usurp the function of the trial judge. Where it could not be said that the defendants' amended defence to a claim of solicitors' negligence had no real prospect of success, it would not be struck out prior to trial.
The Court also held that recognition had to be given to the potential value of electronic searches in identifying important documents which might otherwise be missed. Nevertheless, what was generally required under standard disclosure was a reasonable search. The rule did not require that no stone should be left unturned and the court, not the disclosing solicitor, was ultimately the decision-maker as to what was reasonable in the circumstances. The width of the search of electronic records for which the Applicant contended was potentially very onerous and not reasonable. However, some form of search was to be undertaken, and counsel were invited to make further submissions on the question of how electronic disclosure was to be approached.