Appeal judges face meddling accusation

Appeal judges face meddling accusationHigh Court judge Mr ­Justice Peter Smith has slammed the Court of Appeal for its level of ­intervention in the case management ;of ;long ­commercial trials.

In a speech to the ­London Solicitors ;Litigation ­Association’s (LSLA) ­annual dinner last Tuesday (18 November), Smith J said the appeal court had “failed to engage with High Court judges”, adding that “out-of-touch” appeal judges are to blame for the reoccurrence of long trials.

Smith J’s statements echo the findings of the ­Commercial Court Long Trials Working Party report, which stated: “There were some who argued that appellate courts are far too ready to interfere with a commercial judge’s view on whether there should be summary judgment of a claim or whether it should be struck out.”

But the judge’s speech went further than the report, as he criticised the Court of Appeal for interfering with different types of finding of fact at trial when it came to a full appeal hearing.

One ;litigator ;who ­attended the LSLA event said Smith J’s comments were “fiery”.

“At the time it seemed Peter Smith’s comments were a little close to the bone,” said the lawyer. “On reflection, though, it’s gratifying that, on the whole, he’s thinking along the same lines as the working party.”