Abuse of process in the IPEC—£1bn claim valued by the court at £83

Abuse of process in the IPEC—£1bn claim valued by the court at £83

What is in store for a claimant who values his claim at £1bn when the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) takes firm hold of an application for strike out for abuse of process?

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In Lilley v DMG Events Ltd [2014] EWHC 610 (IPEC)[2014] All ER (D) 123 (Mar) the IPEC decided that Mr Lilley’s particulars of claim in a claim for copyright infringement and negligent misstatement would be struck out as a whole.

What was the factual background to this case?

A litigant in person, Mr Lilley, brought the legal action. The applications were by the defendant (DMG). DMG is a publisher of technical journals. Mr Lilley had supplied articles that appeared in DMG’s publications, in the period 1996 to 2004. After this time, DMG authorised two third parties to publish Mr Lilley’s works. This authorisation was withdrawn in late 2006. There was a clear limitation issue with Mr Lilley’s claim.

What were the legal and procedural issues raised in these applications?

The claim was issued in the High Court. The main action turned on what appears to be a simple copyright infringement claim—however, the particulars of claim ran to 166 pages and contained other allegations. On allocation, the case was transferred to the Patents County Court (PCC), now the IPEC. Mr Lilley resisted the transfer to the PCC.

The first application was a request to strike out the parts of the pleadings that related to a claim of ‘unlawfully resisting the copyright infringement claim’. Since this was a claim not recognised by English law, this was a fairly open and shut application. The second application was a request to strike out the claimant’s statements of case in their entirety on the grounds that they were an abuse of the court’s process.

How did the abuse of process arguments play out?

The judge was clear that the potential value of a claim to a claimant, who succeeds in an action, could be too meagre to justify committing court resources to it and also that:

‘…the court is concerned to ensure that judicial and court resources are appropriately and proportionately used in accordance with the requirements of justice.’ (citing Jameel v Dow Jones & Co Inc 

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