Recently, singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran appeared in the Legal Press due to allegations that his hit song ‘Shape of You’ infringed another artist’s copyright. The other party sought further information and required answers to questions on a number of matters relevant to the Court proceedings pursuant to Part 18 of the Civil Procedure Rules.
The Civil Procedure Rules is the framework of rules which governs much of what goes on in civil and commercial disputes.
A Part 18 Request for Information is a request made by one party for the other party to provide further information on a matter which is in dispute.
The initial request asking for further information was ignored and therefore the Defendants were able to obtain a court order requiring that Sheeran provides the information that was sought.
Why Was the Request Ignored?
Sheeran’s solicitors believed that the questions were excessive, in that they were not confined to matters that were necessary and proportionate to the Defendants’ case. The Practice Direction, which accompanies the Part 18 Request, makes clear that requests must be ‘strictly confined to matters which are reasonably necessary… to enable the first party to prepare his own case’.
It seems that Sheeran’s legal team took the view that the Defendants were therefore ‘not entitled’ to the information, and they responded to the various questions similarly.
A High Court judge, Master Kaye, subsequently criticised Sheeran’s lawyers for thinking that would be the end of the matter. However, Sheeran was granted a further seven days in which to apply to have the court’s Part 18 order varied.
Requests for information under Part 18 are a useful tool in litigation. They can be effective in clarifying vital information early in proceedings. Likewise, responses to Part 18 Requests should be taken seriously and, if a response is appropriate, should be carefully drafted.