Co-op cuts its losses on two-year battle with ICL

The Co-operative Group has finally settled its epic battle with ICL (now Fujitsu Services) without any money changing hands.

The case gained notoriety during the past two years after the initial trial judge, Mr Richard Seymour, slammed the lawyers, witnesses and the Co-op’s case in a first instance judgment.

“The Co-op still believes it was due money from ICL,” said a Co-op insider, but a commercial decision was made not to spend any more time and money on a case that had already cost the company nearly £3m.

The Co-op was claiming £11m from ICL after a dispute about an IT contract. Judge Seymour summarily dismissed the Co-op’s case, which resulted in the company dropping its adviser DLA and replacing it with Ashurst’s Chris Vigrass and Jonathan Raynes.

The Court of Appeal was critical of Judge Seymour in its judgment, stating that he “lost his ability to try [the Co-op’s] claim with an objective judicial mind”. The court stated: “He has demonstrated an inability to grapple objectively with the issues of fact and law presented to him”. It ordered a retrial.

In turn, Fujitsu’s legal team, together with Baker & McKenzie’s Harry Small and lead counsel Henry Carr QC of 11 South Square, attempted to take the case to the House of Lords, but its application was turned down.

“The Co-op has a real sense of being beaten by the system first time round. The consequence is that both sides wasted about £3m and got nowhere,” said the Co-op source.