Fujitsu and Co-op face retrial

The House of Lords has rejected Fujitsu’s pleas to hear its infamous case against the Co-op, which is now set for a complete retrial.

The case, centred on a dispute over an IT contract, which has been running for two years, has cost almost £5m in legal fees and has tarnished the reputations of lawyers, judges and even the courts, and must now start again from scratch.

Co-op group secretary Nick Eyre said: “Notwithstanding the dispute between us and ICL [now Fujitsu], we’ve both been the victims of an unfairness in the process. We’ve both incurred significant costs, yet need to start the process again. We’re considering our position vis-à-vis the Lord Chancellor’s Department/Department of Constitutional Affairs in this regard.”

The case was made infamous by original trial judge Judge Seymour’s damning verdict of the Co-op’s case, as first revealed by The Lawyer in January 2003.

Judge Seymour’s comments that the Co-op’s case did not seem to benefit “from any real legal analysis” and that the claim was “bordering on the nonsensical” caused DLA and Richard Mawrey QC of Henderson Chambers to be fired by the Co-op.

Ashurst and One Essex Court’s Christopher Carr QC won the Co-op’s appeal, with the Court of Appeal slamming Judge Seymour’s “wounding and sarcastic” remarks.

A retrial is not likely to take place until the end of this year or early in 2005.

Spiralling costs for both sides are estimated to be at least £4m, making a settlement extremely difficult.

Harry Small of Baker & McKenzie and Henry Carr QC of 11 South Square are advising Fujitsu.

Fujitsu declined to comment.