Thursday, January 17, 2019

Common Issues trial menu


The Common Issues trial was the first trial in the Bates and others v Post Office group litigation at the High Court. It was held at the Rolls Building between Wed 7 Nov and Thu 6 Dec 2018. Mr Justice Fraser presided.

The judgment was handed down on 15 March 2019. You can read it here. It is 180,000 words long.

If you'd prefer something a little shorter, there is my bluffer's guide to the Common Issues judgment. You can read it here in five minutes. There's also my report on what happened in and outside of court when the judgment was handed down. It's called "He did it." See the bottom of this post for more reaction to the judgment.

Fancy more than dipping your toes in, but you're still not read for the full judgment? This is my fisking of the Common Issues judgment in 5 parts:

Part 1 - on the first few lead claimants and their treatment by the Post Office
Part 2 - on the last few lead claimants and their treatment by the Post Offic
Part 3 - on the Post Office witnesses (one found to mislead the court on oath)
Part 4 - the Post Office's goon squad and general attitude problem
Part 5 - a breakdown of who won what re the Common Issues themselves
Special report on the judge's findings on the National Federation of Subpostmasters

See the bottom of this post for more reaction to the judgment, including press cuttings.

The rest of this blog post deals with everything pretty much chronologically as the trial happened. It includes day-by-day transcripts, write-ups, extra pieces witness statements and other documents as presented to court, not least:

The Common Issues - what the first trial was contested on.

Claim particulars - what this group litigation is about.
Generic defence and counterclaim - the Post Office's defence.

Also, before you start, you might like to read a pre-trial judgment (judgment no.2) - handed down on 20 October - a couple of weeks before the trial started - in which the Post Office's attempts to get lots of evidence ruled inadmissible was struck out. It is quite entertaining.

Ready? Here we go:

Day 1 - Wed 7 November

Claimants' opening statement - Mr Patrick Green QC.
Defendant's opening statement - Mr David Cavender QC.

Transcript,
Write-up: "Skeleton arguments"
Collated live tweets.

Day 2 - Thu 8 November

Giving evidence:

Lead Claimant 1 - Alan Bates
Lead Claimant 2 - Pam Stubbs part 1

Transcript.
Write-up: "Alan Bates and Pam Stubbs take the stand"
Colllated live tweets (morning).
Collated live tweets (afternoon).

Supporting information:
Alan Bates' witness statement.
Pam Stubbs' witness statement.
Serious Horizon Errors document.

Extra pieces by me: Liabilities

Day 3 - Mon 12 November

Giving evidence:

Lead Claimant 2 - Pam Stubbs part 2
Lead Claimant 3 - Mohammad Sabir

Transcript,
Write-up: "Pam Stubbs finishes being cross-examined".

Supporting information:
Mohammad Sabir's witness statement.

Extra pieces by me: Post Office internal memos - Serious Horizon Errors

Day 4 - Tue 13 November

Giving evidence:

Lead Claimant 4 - Naushad Abdulla
Lead Claimant 5 - Liz Stockdale

Transcript,
Write-up: "Naushad Abdulla and Liz Stockdale".

Supporting information:
Naushad Abdulla's witness statement,
Liz Stockdale's witness statement.

Day 5 - Wed 14 November

Giving evidence:

Lead Claimant 6 - Louise Dar

Transcript
Write-up: "Final Lead Claimant is cross-examined".
Collated live tweets.
Supporting information: Louise Dar's witness statement.

Day 6 - Thu 15 November

Giving evidence:

Nick Beal, Head of Agents’ Development and Renumeration, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Paul Williams, Restrictions Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).

Transcript
Write-up: "The Post Office speaks!"
Collated live tweets.

Extra pieces by me: The NFSP

Day 7 - Mon 19 November

Giving evidence:

Sarah Rimmer, Agent Remuneration and Expenses Manager, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
John Breeden, Head of Agency Contracts, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Angela van den Bogerd, People Services Director, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here) part 1.

Transcript.
Write-up: "Angela van den Bogerd part 1"
Collated live tweets.

Day 8 - Tue 20 November

Giving evidence:

Angela van den Bogerd, People Services Director, Post Office Ltd - part 2.

Transcript.
Write-up: "Best of Angela van den Bogerd part 2"
Collated live tweets.

Day 9 - Wed 21 November

Giving evidence:

Angela van den Bogerd, People Services Director, Post Office Ltd - part 3.
Timothy Dance, Retail Transformation Integration Manager, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Helen Dickinson, Security Team Leader, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Michael Shields, Temporary Subpostmaster Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here) part 1

Transcript.
Write-up: "Paula Vennells implicated".
Collated live tweets.

Extra piece by me: Did the Post Office prosecute Subpostmasters in order to seize their assets?

Day 10 - Thu 22 November

Giving evidence:

Michael Shields, Temporary Subpostmaster Advisor, Post Office Ltd - part 2.
Elaine Ridge, Network Contract Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
David Longbottom, Training and Audit Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Michael Webb, Training and Audit Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).

Transcript
Write-up: "The Long and Windy Road".
Collated live tweets.

Extra pieces by me:
The NFSP "signed in blood" email
Internal Post Office email chain "she is questioning the integrity of Horizon"
Ten memorable moments of the first ten days

Day 11 - Monday 26 November

Giving evidence:

Michael Haworth, Network Engagement Manager, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Andrew Carpenter, Agents Contract Advisor, Post Office Ltd (witness statement here).
Brian Trotter, Network Contract Advisor, Post Office Ltd, (witness statement here)

Transcript
Write-up: "The joy of text".
Collated live tweets.

There's also a cameo from me at the beginning of the day, if you're interested: Application to make an unofficial sound recording of proceedings.


Day 12 - Monday 3 December

Oral closing statement from the claimants' QC, Mr Patrick Green - part 1

Transcript.
Collated live tweets.
Written closing statement from the claimants' QC.

Extra piece by me: CCRC gets interested in the Common Issues trial.

Day 13 - Tuesday 4 December

Oral closing statement from the claimants' QC, Mr Patrick Green - part 2

Transcript.
Write up: "Something very serious happened today."
Collated live tweets.
Written closing statement from the claimants' QC.

Day 14 - Wednesday 5 December

Oral closing statement from the Post Office QC, Mr David Cavender - part 1

Transcript.
Write up: "What the Post Office did next".
Collated live tweets.
Written closing statement from the Post Office QC.

Day 15 - Thursday 6 December

Oral closing statement from the Post Office QC, Mr David Cavender - part 2

Transcript.
Write up: "Not even the end of the beginning".
Collated live tweets.
Written closing statement from the Post Office QC.

Judgment day - 15 March 2019

Write-up "He Did It"
Common Issues judgment cheat sheet.
The actual judgment - all 180,000 words of it.

Judgment reactions:
Post Office
Alan Bates (JFSA founder and lead claimant) interview outside court +
James Hartley (lead solicitor for the claimants, Freeths) interview outside court +
Media reports on the day
Slightly bonkers Post Office fireside chat video
NFSP Q&A to its members
My comments on the NFSP Q&A

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I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please forward the link to anyone you think might be interested. The more people who read it, the more people find out about what is the biggest litigation going through the UK courts right now.

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