As readers may recall from earlier posts, extensive Case Management Directions were given in Tranche 2 of the Voicemail Interception Litigation on 27 February 2012. These included a procedure whereby an individual contacted by Operation Weeting could obtain disclosure from the Metropolitan Police without the need for a formal application.
The directions also included the appointment of a Lead Solicitor, the service of Generic Statements of Case and the selection of lead cases. Costs budgets have been fixed for different categories of claim. Voicemail Interception claims cover all claims against News Group Newspapers Limited or Glenn Mulcaire arising out of the use of illegal investigative methods, including but not limited to accessing mobile telephone voicemails.
The directions given were designed to ensure that as many Voicemail Interception claims as possible were ready for trial in February 2013.
This is a copy of the latest version of the Order of 27 February (Amended 18 July 2012) [pdf]
Following a hearing before Mr Justice Vos on 18 July 2012, the “cut off” date for inclusion in Tranche 2 has now been extended to 14 September 2012. This is the date by which Claimant-Specific Particulars of Claim must be served, which should rely inter alia on the disclosure from the Metropolitan Police and any articles published by the Defendants. The directions expressly include claims not only in respect of publications by the News Of The World but also publications by the Sun.
The case management mechanisms which have been put in place for Tranche 2 of the litigation mean that all claimants have full access to all disclosure (whether in their claim or others’ claims) and other relevant material. They are able to take the benefit of the work done (particularly in relation to generic issues and admissions) for Tranche 1 of the litigation which resulted in about 50 Claimants succeeding in obtaining awards of damages, undertakings, apologies, disclosure as well as their costs.
These mechanisms are designed to assist in the proportionate resolution of claims. They are, however, expensive and occupy considerable court time. It is unlikely that similar mechanisms will be put in place for future claims, save as regards the process for obtaining disclosure from the Metropolitan Police. Future claims are, therefore, likely to have to proceed in the ordinary list without the benefits accruing to the managed claims. As a result, it is likely to be to the benefit of a claimant to bring his or her claim in the Tranche 2 managed litigation.
Any solicitor who has a client with a potential Voicemail Interception claim can obtain further information as to the mechanisms and directions in place from the Lead Solicitor, Mark Thomson of Atkins Thomson, who can be contacted on the following email: Mark.Thomson@atkinsthomson.com.