Appeal Court calls for retrial after judge’s ‘wounding’ comments

The Court of Appeal has slammed Mr Justice Seymour following his extraordinarily harsh judgment in Co-op’s case against ICL (now Fujitsu).

The court has delivered a stinging rebuke to match Judge Seymour’s strongly worded criticisms of DLA, Richard Mawrey QC and the Co-op’s witnesses when the case was tried last year.

“Put bluntly, the judge’s findings are obviously unfair,” stated the Court of Appeal in its judgment, adding: “The judge’s view makes no commercial sense whatsoever.”

Last year, the Co-op lost its case against ICL with Judge Seymour commenting that the case “doesn’t seem to have benefited from any real legal analysis” and that the claim was “bordering on the nonsensical”.

This led to the Co-op replacing DLA with Ashurst, while Mawrey, of Roger Henderson QC’s 2 Harcourt Buildings, was effectively demoted to assist One Essex Court’s Christopher Carr QC.

The Court of Appeal denounced the comments as “wounding and sarcastic… informed by the same unfair view which the judge took of CWS’s [the Co-op’s] case”.

The judgment went on to conclude that Seymour “lost his ability to try CWS’s claim with an objective judicial mind… He has demonstrated an inability to grapple objectively with the issues of fact and law presented to him.”

The Court of Appeal has ordered a retrial, but this remarkable case could take a number of paths. Fujitsu’s legal team, together with adviser Baker & McKenzie and lead counsel Henry Carr QC of 11 South Square, must consider whether to appeal to the House of Lords, settle or to proceed with the retrial.

Co-op secretary Nick Eyre said: “This decision vindicates the group’s management team, who were treated shamefully by Judge Richard Seymour in his judgment. Judge Seymour chose to disregard their testimonies and instead appeared to construct his own theories, which we felt had no basis in the evidence before him… The way is now open for us to revisit our grievance with ICL and we will be doing so.”

Fujitsu declined to comment, while Judge Seymour was unavailable at the time of going to press.