Monday, June 3, 2019

Horizon trial: Re-start Preview

Here we go again...
Ten weeks after the Post Office brought the Horizon trial to a juddering halt with its doomed bid to get the managing judge in the group litigation sacked, we are ready to resume.

Over the last ten weeks the Post Office has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to recuse the judge, appeal that recusal, appeal the first trial judgment, avoid paying a chunk the claimants' legal fees and delay paying a chunk of the claimants' legal fees. It has failed on all fronts.

These setbacks have to be weighed up against the advantages it has gained. The longer and costlier the Post Office makes the litigation for all concerned, the more chance it will collapse, or the claimants' funders will pull the plug. 

Given how badly the Post Office has lost almost every aspect of the litigation so far, and given the Post Office's very existence (by its own admission) is threatened by this legal action, it is a legitimate litigation tactic to drag everything out. After all, if you had bottomless pockets of taxpayer's cash at your disposal, a tacit thumbs up from the government and were fighting for your own survival, you would too.

Concluding the Horizon trial

Over the next four days (4 - 7 June), Jason Coyne, the claimants' independent IT expert, will be grilled by Anthony de Garr Robinson QC, the Post Office's lead barrister for the Horizon trial.

Next week, on 11, 13 and 14 June, the Post Office's independent IT expert Dr Robert Worden will be grilled by Patrick Green QC, the claimants' lead barrister. 

Court is not sitting on 12 June next week, but in court Patrick Green was quite adamant he only needed three days to cross-examine Dr Worden, even though the judge offered him parity.

Court will not sit for the second half of June. Closing arguments will be made in court on 1 and 2 July.

Remind us what this particular trial is about?

The Post Office contends its Horizon IT system is "robust". The claimants have already accepted the Horizon IT system is "relatively robust". 

You could argue the Boeing 737 Max is relatively robust. It's what happens when things go wrong that's important. 

The claimants say problems with Horizon and the Post Office's apparent refusal to deal with those Horizon-related problems in a remotely rational manner is at the root cause of many of their grievances. The Post Office disagrees.

Hopefully the expert evidence from both sides will give us some answers. 

So there we go. 

The taxpayer's cash hose is primed and ready to spray its contents all over those mighty-talented lawyers. Thanks to your contributions, I will be there to report it all as it's actually happening (on twitter - a regularly updated webpage you can view simply by clicking this link).

Then, when each day is done you'll find a report and transcript of the proceedings here on this blog.

If you are part of the secret email club you will also get a short email preview most mornings and a debrief every evening. 

The trial is open to all. If you can come along, be at Court 26 of the High Court's Rolls Building off Fetter Lane in that London at 10.20am tomorrow. Proceedings start 10.30am on the dot.

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If you want to find out a little bit more about the underlying story, click here.
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