Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Chadwick has slammed Addleshaw Goddard solicitor-advocate Mark Clough QC for the content of his skeleton argument in Sony’s case against HM Revenue & Customs.
Chadwick LJ’s first concern was that the argument cast aspersions “on the intellectual honesty of the High Court Judge from whose decision this appeal is brought”.
The case was on appeal from Mr Justice Lawrence Collins, whom Clough claimed “deliberately misinterprets” part of a previous decision.
Chadwick LJ took exception to this remark, saying: “Fearless advocacy is one thing; intemperate advocacy is another.”
He added that: “An advocate who means to call into question not only the reasoning, but the intellectual integrity of a judge, or a judgment, must be particularly sure of his or her ground.”
Chadwick LJ said that the skeleton argument’s faults included “inordinate length… [and a] frequent and unnecessary resort to hyperbole”.
Fellow appeal judges Lord Justice Sedley and Lady Justice Arden said they agreed with Chadwick LJ’s remarks. Chadwick LJ devoted four paragraphs to scathing criticism of Clough’s presentation of the case.
Chadwick LJ dismissed Sony’s appeal for a £50m rebate for import duties paid on its PlayStation 2 console, and denied further appeal to the European Court of Justice. Sony has been trying for five years to have the console classified as a digital processing unit to avoid import charges.
Sony instructed Clough and Van Bael & Bellis partner Philippe de Baere.
HM Revenue & Customs instructed Matrix Chambers’ Kieron Beal.
Clough and de Baere declined to comment.
Sony is yet to decide on whether to take the case to the House of Lords.