CPR Part 36 Part 18 Litigation UK Solicitors

High Court holds Ed Sheeran’s lawyers gave inadequate responses to Part 18 requests in copyright infringement case

The High Court has held that singer Ed Sheeran, ignored CPR Part 18 Requests for Information from Defendants in a copyright infringement case. The Court takes breaches of its rules seriously.

The High Court has held that the well known singer Ed Sheeran, ignored Part 18 Requests for Information from the Defendants in a copyright infringement case, which was an inadequate response. CPR Part 18 governs rules around Requests for Information and as in this case, the Court will take breaches of the rules seriously. If you require legal advice in making or responding to a Part 18 Request for Information, get in touch with our litigation team.

Part 18 Request for information in copyright infringement case

The litigation, which is anticipated to cost the parties £3 million between them, concerns Ed Sheeran’s song Shape of You released in 2017. Following allegations of copyright infringement, the Claimants are seeking declaratory relief that they have not infringed the Defendants’ copyright. The Defendants have issued a counterclaim for copyright infringement and damages for the same.

Prior to the the Case and Costs Management Conference, the Defendants served a CPR Part 18 Request for Information consisting of 22 requests and they sought a response within 2 weeks. The Claimants ignored the Part 18 Request claiming that the requests were disproportionate and not necessary for the Defendants to prepare their case. The Defendants applied to the Court for a decision and on 27 April 2020, the Court ordered for the Claimants to respond to the Part 18 Request by 15 May 2020 however the Claimants failed to do so.

The Court found no good reason for the Claimants’ breach of court orders in failing to (i) provide a sufficient and complete response to the Defendants’ Part 18 Request; and (ii) apply to set aside or vary the terms of the 27 April Order, however in taking into account that the Claimants’ lawyers were unwell with Covid-19, allowed the Claimants a further seven days to vary the Order dated 27 April 2020.

Read the judgment here: Sheeran & Ors v Chokri & Ors [2020] EWHC 2806 (Ch).

What is a CPR Part 18 Request for Information (“RFI”)?

Part 18 is a rule that helps litigants understand the opponent’s case. The rule is set out under England & Wales’ Civil Procedure Rules 1998. If a request for further information is not adequately replied to then the Claimant/Defendant can apply for a Court Order order under Part 18 demanding the information. The purpose of the rule is ensure understanding of the case and earlier cooperation and resolution.

Upon receipt of a statement of case or at any time in the proceedings, a party to proceedings may consider that the statement of case does not provide sufficient information about the claim. A formal request can be made under CPR 18.1(1) for the other party to clarify or provide additional information in relation to any such issue.

An “RFI” or a ‘Part 18 Request’ can be used to:

  • clarify a specific issue in the case
  • narrow the issues in dispute between the parties
  • give additional information in relation to a matter in the proceedings which has not been done otherwise by witness evidence
  • reveal weaknesses in the other party’s case by highlighting a specific issue which is not clear in the party’s statement of case
  • obtain an admission on a specific issue in the proceedings

The matter to which a Request for Information relates does not need to be contained or referred to in a statemrent of case i.e. a pleaded issue, however it should be relevant to the proceedings.

How to respond to a Part 18 Request

A response to a Part 18 Request for Information must be in writing, dated and signed by the second party or his legal representative (paragraph 2.1 of CPR Practice Direction 18).

The receiving party is allowed ‘a reasonable time to respond’ (paragraph 1.1 of CPR Practice Direction 18).

Like other statements of case in the proceedings, a response should be verified by a statement of truth (as set out in Part 22).

Can I object to a Part 18 Request?

Often the receiving party may consider a Part 18 Request to be disproportionate, irrelevant to the proceedings or a “fishing expedition”.

If the receiving party objects to complying with the Part 18 Request or is unable to do so in the time allocated, he must inform the requesting party promptly.

If the receiving party considers that a Part 18 Request can only be complied with at disproportionate expense and objects to comply for that reason he should say so in his reply and explain briefly why he has taken that view (paragraph 4.2 of CPR Practice Direction 18).

There is no requirement to notify the Court but if an application is made, the receiving party must be prepared to clearly set out its objections.

Failure to comply with order for a Part 18 Request

If you fail to comply with a court order to provide further information that are final orders, this can result in unless orders which can eventually lead to your case being struck out.

A receiving or objecting party must be prepared to give valid, cogent reasons as to why it failed to comply with a court order and respond adequately to a Part 18 Request.

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