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29 November 2021 | Firm News | Article by Abigail Flanagan

‘High profile and legally significant’ case selected for Court of Appeal live-streaming pilot

A civil case in which Hugh James is acting has been selected for live streaming on YouTube tomorrow (30 November), as part of a pilot to make the Court of Appeal more accessible.

The application, which has been chosen because of its importance, follows the recent decision of the High Court at a trial in June this year. The case relates to two former directors of Ceredigion Recycling and Furniture Team (CRAFT) – a not-for-profit business in Aberystwyth – who were found liable in June for losses suffered by CRAFT as a result of the former directors breaching their fiduciary duties. Those directors had transferred ownership of the store’s only premises, which had benefitted from millions of pounds of publicly funded grants to themselves leaving the not-for-profit company facing large rent bills and not owning it largest asset.

Hugh James successfully represented CRAFT, instructed by its current directors Sharon and Scott Thomas, at the original trial. One of the Defendants, Mr Derek Clifford Pope, sought permission first from the High Court and then from the Court of Appeal to bring an appeal against that decision. Both courts declined, finding there was no real prospect of an appeal succeeding.

In a rare move, Mr Pope, is seeking to re-open his attempts to get permission to bring his appeal, having failed twice already. The Court of Appeal will hear argument as to whether Mr Pope meets the very tough test to re-open the already final decision in this case. If he succeeds in convincing the Court of Appeal to reopen the matter, he will then be allowed to ask, a third time, for permission to appeal the High Court’s original decision.

Cases of this nature are rare, because the justice system looks to balance fairness and the right to an appeal, with the need to have finality. It must be a truly exceptional circumstance to justify going behind the rules, and CRAFT will be defending the application in the hope of achieving that finality.

The live-streaming pilot, by HM Courts and Tribunals Service, applies to cases at the Court of Appeal’s Civil Division which are deemed to be “high profile and legally significant.” The move is designed to increase open justice and improve public access and understanding of the justice system.

At Tuesday’s full-court hearing, cameras in the court will be directed at the judges’ benches and the bar and will be presented on a split screen. The session will be streamed via YouTube and made available on the Judiciary’s website after the hearing.

Hugh James Partner Tracey Singlehurst-Ward and Senior Associate, Abigail Flanagan, from the Dispute Resolution team, will be present in-person, along with counsel, Lydia Seymour, from Outer Temple Chambers.

Speaking ahead of the hearing, Hugh James Senior Associate, Abigail Flanagan, said today:

“The live streaming of this hearing will undoubtedly open up public access to the courts, which we wholeheartedly welcome. However, in bringing this case, the defendant is prolonging the anguish and financial hardship he has already put my client through. The Defendants took an extremely valuable asset and money that didn’t belong to them to unjustifiably line their own pockets.

“Despite fighting and winning at trial this summer, and despite the High Court and Court of Appeal already declining to hear an appeal twice, my clients are now being forced to go through the stress all over again. As a not-for-profit company our client simply wishes to have justice served and to be able to focus on serving the Welsh community for the benefit of those in need.”

Author bio

Abigail Flanagan joined the dispute resolution team in 2005 and became a Partner in May 2022. Abbie specialises in professional negligence claims (mainly against solicitors, accountancy practitioners and other finance professionals), general commercial litigation matters (including warranty, contractual and director/shareholder disputes) and insolvency matters.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.

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