We refer to the Court Order dated 26 September 2007 staying the above claim pending the ultimate determination of the Commercial Court litigation. or 31 March 2008, whichever is sooner. This claim was stayed in light of the litigation taking place in the High Court between the Office of Fair Trading and Abbey National Plc and others (Claim no. 2007, Folio 1186) ("the OFT proceedings").
A trial of certain prelimanary legal issues in the OFT proceedings has recently taken place in the High Court of Justice, Commercial Court, London, before Mr Justice Andrew Smith. The first hearing of the OFT Proceedings concluded on 8 February 2008, with judgment being reserved.
As a result of the complex legal and factual issues arising in the OFT proceedings and the need to manage practically these issues, certain preliminary issues were left outstanding as at the conclusion of the hearing. We understand that it is anticipated, subject to appeals by either the OFT or the Banks involved, or both, that the remaining further preliminary issues will be addressed in a second phase of the OFT proceedings as soon as this can be arranged following judgment on the phase which has just been completed.
At the recent hearing the Court confirmed its views that the OFT proceedings are the most appropriate mechanism for the resolution of the issues raised in the County Court claims. In this regard, Mr Justice Andrew Smith remarked as follows on Wednesday 6 February 2008:
"I understand that many proceedings have been on hold in the expectation that this case will assist the management of the county court litigation, and the expectation that every effort will be made to provide that assistance with undue delay... I haven't discerned anything during the hearing that undermines or significantly detracts from that expectation, and I certainly don't mind that being conveyed to those charged with managing the county court cases..."
While it is anticipated that judgment is being prepared as quickly as possible, Justice Smith has indicated that it is not possible to predict accurately when his judgment will be handed down. In addition, as indicated above, it is presently anticipated by the parties and the Court that, irrespective of the result, further hearings in the OFT proceedings and/or appeals will be required before all the relevant legal and factual issues are finally determined.
For these reasons, we respectfully submit that the appropriate mechanism for the resolution of the issues raised in the claim before you remains the OFT proceedings. In the circumstances, and in order to ensure effective case management and consistent and fiar treatment of similar cases throughout the County Courts, we would respectfully request that the stay on the above claim is extended and that the following order be made:
"Upon reading the Defendant's letter dated 25 March 2008;
And upon it appearing that the legal principles in this case are the subject of litigation commenced by the Office of Fair Trading against certain banks in the High Court of Justice, Case Number 2007, Folio 1186 (" the OFT test case").
IT IS ORDERED THAT:
1. The claim be stayed pending the final determination of the OFT test case, to include any appeal.
2. Permission to be given to apply to lift the stay or to set aside or vary this order within 7 days of the service of the Order. Any application shall be on notice to all parties and shall be supported by a statement setting out why this claim should proceed before the final determination fo the OFT test case.
3. Unless the Court has already given directions, the Claimant may within three months of the final determination of the OFT test case apply to a District Judge sitting at the the County Court where the claim is proceeding for directions for the future conduct of this action".
We would ask that this letter be referred to the District Judge at the earliest opportunity. We should also be grateful if it were possible for the Court to respond before the expiry date.
I am clueless as to what I should be doing.....
I want to fire a letter off saying "this should be settled now"