Tuesday, 8 October 2019

October 2019 Bates v Post Office group litigation update

The Royal Courts of Justice, London
We are currently awaiting two outcomes affecting this litigation. The judgment into the second (Horizon) trial and the Court of Appeal ruling on the Post Office's application to appeal the first (Common Issues) trial.

Both are important. If the Horizon trial judgment finds in the Post Office's favour, all bets are off as to the future outcome of this litigation. If the Post Office's appeal is allowed and they subsequently manage to persuade the Court of Appeal to reverse the first trial judgment, the litigants are back where they started, and their funders might decide to pull the plug. Tense, I expect, for those with a vested interest in their Lordships' decisions.

After making a few enquiries, this much I know:

Appeal application

There will be a five hour hearing on 12 November at the Court of Appeal, during which both sides will put their case verbally (you can read the Post Office's written grounds here and the claimant Subpostmasters' written objection here).

It would be unlikely (I am told) for the Appeal Court judge to make a decision that day on whether to allow the appeal. It is therefore most likely to be a written decision handed down at some stage after 12 November.

Horizon trial judgment

This is not going to appear before the 21 October, and it is unlikely to be circulated to the parties even in draft form before the end of the month. The parties will receive an update as to when they might expect the draft judgment in the week commencing 21 October.

And that, I am afraid, is the best I can do.

As they say in the army: "Wait out."

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