Canary Riverside Estate Management Limited & others v Coates & Circus Apartments Limited (as intervenor) [2021] EWHC 1505 (Ch)

08.06.2021

The High Court has handed down judgment in Canary Riverside Estate Management Limited & others v Coates & Circus Apartments Limited (as intervenor) [2021] EWHC 1505 (Ch). The judgment concerns a set of three appeals from case management decisions made within proceedings in the County Court.

The case is the latest chapter of a long-running dispute between the owners/landlords, tenants and statutory manager of a large residential estate in Canary Wharf, London E14, called Canary Riverside.

The landlord brought a claim to enforce the terms of a recital to an order made in the First Tier Tribunal for provision of documents held by the statutory manager. The Court has allowed a tenant of the Estate to intervene in the proceedings. The Intervenor claims rights of confidence and privilege in the documents that are the subject of the claim; and does not want the Court to order provision of those documents to the landlord.

The first two appeals concerned the manager’s application to amend his Defence in various ways, including to plead further contractual defences; and to raise a ‘clean hands’ defence against the landlord. At first instance, the Court gave the manager permission to rely on the contractual defences. The manager appealed the refusal on the ‘clean hands’ point; and the landlord appealed the grant of permission on the contractual defences.

The third appeal related to a decision to impose a ‘Confidentiality Club’ upon the parties against the wishes of the Intervenor and the manager. The Club contemplated that the firm of solicitors acting for the landlord would be permitted to consider the documents over which confidence and privilege was asserted. The Intervenor appealed.

Finally, the Court attempted to determine a point that was not considered by the Court below as to whether the Intervenor could assert confidence over all documents that passed between it and the manager on a class basis.

After 3 days of argument, Mr Justice Michael Green allowed the manager’s appeal and the Intervenor’s appeal and dismissed the landlord’s appeal. The Court also decided that the Intervenor could not assert class confidence within these proceedings.

The judgment on the appeals contains a helpful summary of recent case law on abuse of process and the circumstances in which a party may resile from an earlier concession; and a consideration of the relevant test that must be satisfied for a court to determine that a litigant should be denied equitable relief due to its own wrongdoing. Michael Green J reviewed the law on class-based confidentiality and distinguished it from the established body of authority dealing with class-based public interest immunity claims.

Jonathan McNae acted for the successful manager. Please contact the clerks if you would like to discuss the case.

 

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