“YOU ARE ONLY HERE BECAUSE YOU HAVE A CFA”: THERE IS NOT MUCH USE IN ATTACKING THE SOURCE OF YOUR OPPONENT’S FUNDING
In an earlier post we looked the judge’s views in relation to witness credibility in Riva Properties Ltd & Ors v Foster + Partners Ltd  EWHC 2574 (TCC). Here we look at the judge’s view on the defendant’s attack on the claimants’ funding.
“… if Conditional Fee Agreements and After The Event insurance are legal and acceptable mechanisms which Parliament has decided should be available to fund civil litigation – which they are, and which Parliament has – then the fact that a claimant (or his companies) avails himself of these mechanisms to bring proceedings does not, in my judgment, mean that they are to be characterised as playing with other people’s money or bluffing, or treating litigation as though it were a game.”
THE DEFENDANT’S OPENING SUBMISSIONS
The defendant was not pulling any punches in its opening submissions:
“1. These proceedings are a retrospective construct designed by or on behalf of the guiding mind of the Claimants, Mr Darbara Singh Dhanoa (otherwise known as John Dhanoa), who belatedly realised the excesses of his own hubris when he was unable to achieve what he wanted.
2. Rather than take the failure of his venture on the chin, Mr Dhanoa seeks to recover from the Defendant (“F+P”) his costs of the venture and the lost profits he wishes he would have made if only he had opened a 5-star hotel in September 2012. This is in circumstances where Mr Dhanoa has never got near to putting a spade in the ground to start the construction of the hotel.
3. Indeed, despite the fact that Mr Dhanoa obtained planning permission for his desired hotel (which F+P designed), over 8 years ago, on 19 February 2009, no planning permission has been applied for, let alone obtained, for the scheme which Mr Dhanoa now says F+P should have designed (“the Acanthus Scheme”), a scheme which even now has very little detail.
4. Mr Dhanoa has no case at all. Instead, having instructed solicitors on a CFA and taken out ATE insurance, he is playing with other people’s money trying to bluff his way through the Court as if civil litigation were some game of high stakes poker. At trial, F+P will expose Mr Dhanoa’s claim for the bluff that it is.”
As we have seen things did not go so well for the defendant, with a judgment of £3,604,694.36.
THE JUDGE’S VIEW
Mr Justice Fraser firmly rejected the view that the fact that a party was on a CFA meant that they were any less credible as litigants.