Shorter trial scheme undergoes first full test as court allows BP appeal in $70m claim

Shorter trial scheme undergoes first full test as court allows BP appeal in $70m claim

The first case brought to trial under the London courts’ ongoing shorter trial pilot scheme has concluded on 27 July, when the Court of Appeal ruled in favour of BP in a $70m breach of warranty and misrepresentation dispute.

The High Court started the pilot scheme for shorter trials in September 2015, for cases in the commercial, technology and construction courts, the chancery division and the mercantile courts, all located in London’s Rolls Building.

The scheme offers dispute resolution for commercial cases and aimed to have them managed by docketed judges and to reach trial within ten months of the issue of proceedings, with judgment delivered within six weeks after. The maximum length of a trial under the scheme is four days, including reading time. The judge-led reform intended to ensure cases were handled more quickly.

The recent BP case centred on a claim by the National Bank of Abu Dhabi that BP had breached its warranties and misrepresented itself in a $70m receivables financing transaction related to the sale of 100,000 metric tonnes of crude oil to a Moroccan oil refinery.

BP had agreed to sell the National Bank of Abu Dhabi 95% of the debt it was owed by Moroccan oil refining company SAMIR for supplying it with oil. When SAMIR defaulted in November 2015, BP were unable to sell the debt to the Bank under the terms of its sale and purchase agreement with SAMIR.

Under the shorter trial procedure, permission to appeal Mrs Justice Carr’s November 2016 ruling in favour of the National Bank of Abu Dhabi was expedited. Last week, the Court of Appeal allowed BP’s appeal. The detailed reasons for the judgment are currently reserved.

BP was represented by Addleshaw Goddard, who instructed Fountain Court Chambers’ Bankim Thanki QC and Christopher Lewis QC of Atkin Chambers. The National Bank of Abu Dhabi was represented by Slaughter and May, which instructed Rhodri Davies QC and Nicholas Sloboda of One Essex Court.

Thanki described the case to Legal Business as ‘litigation conducted by adults’ and cited an increased co-operation between the parties to limit disclosure and accelerate proceedings.

Thanki said that ‘literally a handful’ of documents were disclosed and that legal costs amounted to £350,000 each.

This article first appeared on The Lex 100‘s sister publication, Legal Business.