Judge slams DLA in ICL v Co-operative

Baker & McKenzie’s first case for ICL (now Fujitsu Services) against Co-operative Group has concluded triumphantly, and the judge’s damning verdict has left opposition lawyers DLA and Richard Mawrey QC of 2 Harcourt Buildings with egg on their faces

Mawrey had previously emerged as the victor against ICL in the landmark St Albans Council v ICL, but Judge Seymour’s extraordinary judgment in this case makes another appearance against the company doubtful.

“The formulation of the case of CWS (the Co-operative Wholesale Society) in this action doesn’t seem to have benefited from any real legal analysis,” said Judge Seymour in his judgment. He said the claim was “bordering on the nonsensical”.

“The formidable problems of showing a contract seem never to have been seriously addressed before the trial of this action, and even at the trial Mr Mawrey showed no enthusiasm for grappling with them,” concluded the judge.

But Mawrey has hit back, and told The Lawyer: “An appeal is being actively contemplated on the grounds of judicial misconduct.”

The judgment went on to dismiss Co-op’s three main witnesses. One, said the judge, was “plotting the downfall of ICL”, another was “simply telling lies in order to try to support CWS’s case”, and the evidence of a third “was pure invention”, as it covered a period when he was on holiday.

A spokesman for Co-op said: “We believe the attack on the witnesses was unwarranted.”

The spokesman would not comment on the performance of the company’s lawyers. DLA’s Graham Orchison advised Co-op; Harry Small of Baker & McKenzie advised ICL, along with Henry Carr QC of 11 South Square.

DLA declined to comment.