UK Courts set aside £100,000 judgment against Indian law firm in professional negligence suit

FM HouseIn early 2013, Prashant had reported a default judgment of 100,000 pounds entered into by the London High Court against Fox Mandal in a suit filed by one of its former clients for professional negligence in a patent prosecution that had been handled by the firm. As reported by Bar & Bench, this verdict has now been set aside by the High Court itself and the Court of Appeal, England, this month, has refused permission for leave to appeal on account of the claim being meritless.

One of the reasons provided for the setting aside of the judgment was that copies were not served on the person with whom the plaintiff, Karat’s solicitors had been corresponding with at the time when proceedings were served. This, the court said would have been common sense and common courtesy because then there would have been no uncertainty as to when the defendant gained knowledge about the proceedings. However, in the instant case, the Court noted that it had no reason to disbelieve the defendant’s submission regarding the time and method by which they came to know about the proceedings. Therefore, exercising its discretion, the Court noted that it was setting aside the default judgment given earlier. It must be noted that non-service of proceedings becomes extremely relevant because the earlier order was a default judgment owing to non-appearance of the defendants.

Moreover, the Court of Appeal has also refused permission to file an appeal against the order setting aside the earlier order. This was for three main reasons.First, the High Court had the discretion to set aside such an order. Second, the High Court was entitled to accept the defendant’s submission as to when it came to know of such proceedings. Third, the service of proceedings were done in London and not to the person in India with whom the plaintiff’s solicitors had been corresponding with previously.

The plaintiff, Mr. Karat, director of the Movie Card People Company Limited was represented by Mr. Ravindra Kumar of Singhania & Co and Of Counsel Mr. Michael Biggs. The defendant, Fox Mandal was represented by Mr. Rustam Dash and Mr. Saionton Basu of Penningtons Manches LLP and Of Counsel Ms. Victoria Shore.

L. Gopika Murthy

Gopika is a fourth year student at National Law School of India University, Bangalore. She was formerly the Chief Editor of the Indian Journal of Law and Technology. Her first exposure to Intellectual property law and SpicyIP was through the University Moot Rounds at NLSIU, Bangalore in her first year. She has been regularly following the developments in the field of IPR since then and she hopes to contribute to the reporting of such developments. Her areas of interest in IP include copyrights, open access, fair dealing and trademarks.

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