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Will the court accept additional claims into proceedings?

26 Feb 2018

 

In the case of Airsys Communications Technology Ltd v Becker, the court considered whether to allow the addition of new claims and whether the claimant’s application for specific disclosure should be granted.

 

Facts

 

The defendant was the former CEO of Airsys and remained a shareholder.  Airsys alleged that he had breached various restrictive covenants as:

 

  1. he had gone into business with a competitor (C); and

  2. he had contacted Airsys’ customers and suppliers on behalf of C.

 

The defendant admitted that he had been involved in C’s business but that denied that C was a competitor.  An order for a speedy trial was made.

 

Airsys made an application to include further claims against the defendant, namely that:

 

  1. he had unlawfully accessed emails on Airsys’ system for private purposes; and

  2. he had retained copies of such emails.

 

Airsys also made an application for delivery up of documents including the emails, various confidential information, and documents indicating that the defendant was a director of C.

 

Decision

 

It was held that the new claims should be allowed to form part of the speedy trial (excluding the allegation that the defendant had unlawful access to the emails).  This exclusion was because of the complexity of arguments, which could be outside the scope of a speedy trial.

 

In relation to the delivery up application, the court held that, if the defendant had retained materials that he should not have retained, the matter should be resolved as soon as possible to protect Airsys’ confidential information; and ordered the defendant to disclose the documents that he had retained which fell within the definition of confidential information, as well as disclosure of the financial records of any payment to or from C (to evidence the defendant’s involvement with C).

 

Summary

 

This case indicates that the courts are willing to allow additional claims into proceedings and order delivery up where such actions are deemed to be relevant to progressing proceedings whilst not endangering speedy trials. 

 

Parties should, however, understand that prior to a claim form being filed at court, parties should ensure that the claim form deals with all claims which the parties are aware of at that time.  The court will likely not allow parties to add claims at a later date that they should have been aware of prior to issue.

 

For more information, please contact Alexandra Withers.

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