By Sebina Noreen Malik
The defendant, Sheffield United Limited raised an issue about two share sale agreements made between the claimant and the defendant, which appeared to be signed by HRH Prince Abdulrahman on behalf of UTB LLC.
Application for relief from Sanctions
On the 9th day of the trial the defendant provided a draft handwriting expert report, stating the signature on one of the share sale agreements was not the same as the signature appearing on other documents. The defendant made an application in writing for relief from sanctions over night to challenge the authenticity of the two share sale agreements that had been disclosed.
Civil Procedure Rule (CPR)
Pursuant to “CPR 32.19
(1) A party shall be deemed to admit the authenticity of a document disclosed to him under Part 31 (disclosure and inspection of documents) unless he serves notice that he wishes the document to be proved at trial.
(2) A notice to prove a document must be served –
(a) by the latest date for serving witness statements; or
(b) within 7 days of disclosure of the document, whichever is later.”
The share sale agreements were disclosed in November 2018 and witness statements were exchanged on 13 February 2019. The defendant did not serve notice to challenge the authenticity of the disclosed documents in good time ahead of the trial. Raising new issues during the trial with a tight timetable would have led to considerable expense being incurred by carrying out further investigations, disclosing further documents, preparing further witness statements and possibly instructing a handwriting expert to give evidence. The defendant should have challenged the authenticity of the documents by no later than the deadline for service of witness statements i.e. by 13 February 2019.
The High Court refused to grant relief from sanctions to challenge the authenticity of the documents or to call handwriting expert evidence as the allegations added no substance to the real issues.
“Prince Abdulrahman is not an alleged conspirator, nor is any conspirator alleged to have forged his signature”.
The judge considered whether the share sale agreements had been validly executed and held that the authenticity would not have affected the case.
Case: UTB LLC v Sheffield United Ltd  EWHC 1377 (Ch) (04 June 2019) (Fancourt J).