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Commercial CourtThursday 5 June 2014

The Secretary of State for Transport v Paragon Group UK Ltd v PHS Ltd

Trial Date: 5th June 2014

This case concerns who should bear the cost of the decision in 2010 to re-print and re-issue registration forms for every car in the United Kingdom, amounting to around £8million.

In 2006, the Defendant, Paragon, sent over 2 million car registration forms which the Claimant had printed to the Third Party, PHS, the country’s leading supplier of waste destruction services, for shredding.  Despite PHS issuing certificates purporting to confirm that the forms had been shredded, several thousand of them have since been used by criminals to sell stolen cars.

The Claimant says that required the re-print and the re-issue of all forms in the country, and claims the cost of doing so against Paragon, who defends that claim while stating that PHS is the truly liable party.

The theft of the forms and the subsequent re-issue has been the subject of extensive media coverage for a number of years.  The claim itself raises a number of interesting and complex legal and factual matters in the law of contract, deceit, bailment, and conversion.  It is also certain to involve detailed consideration of both the decision reached by Phillip Hammond shortly after the 2010 election to re-print and re-issue all registration forms in the country, as well as the failure of his predecessors as Secretary of State under previous administrations to make that decision earlier.

In particular, the case will require the Court to confront to what extent that decision was politically motivated, and to what extent government bodies are entitled to visit the costs of politically motivated decisions on third party commercial contractors.

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