Court considers Part 18 request for further information

Barness v Formation Group Plc & Ors, Ch D (Morgan J), 26/4/2018

The facts

Although this was not a casualty claim, it raises important points in respect of applications for further information that are made under CPR Part 18.

In this case, the claimants alleged that the defendants had made fraudulent statements to induce them to invest in three investment schemes. The claimants submitted that they relied on these statements and as a result incurred substantial losses.

The claimants specifically alleged that the memorandums prepared by the defendants for the investment schemes had included false representations that the defendants had knowingly or recklessly made.

The claimants made an application under CPR Part 18 for the defendants to supply information that identified the individuals that prepared the memorandums along with information detailing how the memorandums were prepared.

The claimants submitted that the court had the power under CPR, r. 18.1(1) to order the defendants to provide the requested information. It was submitted that this information was reasonably necessary and proportionate to enable the claimants to prepare their case and was required before they served their particulars of claim.

The decision

The court stated that the application could come within CPR, PD 18 paragraph 1.2 if the request for further information was reasonably necessary and proportionate to enable the claimants to serve their particulars of claim.

The court noted that the purpose behind the claimants’ application was to identify further defendants that might in the future be joined to the proceedings and/or to obtain information about a further claim that could be made against the existing defendants.

The court noted that the Part 18 request did not relate to the matters currently in dispute and although the information could assist with the claimants pleading a more detailed case, it was clear that the particulars of claim could be served in its current state.

The court disagreed with the claimants submissions that the further information sought was necessary for the particulars of claim to be served.

The court noted possible alternative approaches for obtaining further information, to include an application for specific disclosure under CPR, r. 31.12 and submissions under CPR, r. 3.1(2) that would allow the court to make an order to manage the case and to further the overriding objective of dealing with cases justly and at proportionate cost. However, the court stated that it would be very unusual for an order for disclosure to be made against an opponent before the particulars of claim had been served.

The claimants’ application was refused.

What this means for you

This case shows that a Part 18 request for further information must be concise and strictly confined to the matters which are reasonably necessary and proportionate to enable a party to prepare their case or to understand the case they have to meet. Also, a Part 18 request should relate to the matter in dispute and will be considered in accordance with the overriding objective of dealing with cases justly and at proportionate cost.

In this case, the information sought by the claimants was not in respect of the matters in dispute and the court was of the view that the particulars of claim could be served without the defendant being ordered to provide the information requested.

Requests for further information must be sensibly made and proportionate in respect of the context of the case. Also, a reasonable period of time must be allowed for a party to respond to the request and prior to making a formal application, it should be borne in mind that a party may well provide more information voluntarily than the court might order them to produce if the issue went to a hearing.