Various Claimants v NGN (TPI)

Reference: [2024] EWHC 902 (Ch)

Court: High Court, Business and Property Courts

Judge: Fancourt J

Date of judgment: 19 Apr 2024

Summary: TPI - Phone Hacking Litigation - Limitation

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Appearances: David Sherborne (Claimant)  Kate Wilson (Claimant)  Ben Hamer (Claimant) 

Instructing Solicitors: Hamlins LLP (Lead Solicitors for the Claimants), Clifford Chance LLP (Defendant)


The Claimants are various individuals who have brought claims arising from alleged unlawful information gathering by the News of the World and The Sun, newspapers published by the Defendant, as part of the mobile telephone voicemail interception litigation (“MTVIL”). A trial was listed to begin in January 2025.

The Defendant applied for a trial of preliminary issue on an issue relating to limitation, namely “whether for the purposes of section 32(1) of the Limitation Act 1980, the claimant[s] knew or could with reasonable diligence have known more than six years before he/she issued proceedings, facts that would have led a reasonable person to discover that they had a worthwhile claim, in the sense that such a person would have sufficient confidence to justify embarking on the preliminaries to issuing proceedings, such as submitting a claim to the defendant, taking advice and/or collecting evidence.” The Defendant sought the preliminary issue trial to replace the full trial listed to begin in January 2025.

The Claimants resisted the application.


Should there be a trial of preliminary issue?


Application dismissed.

There were too few advantages at the stage of litigation the claims were at to abandon the orderly preparation for a trial of all issues in January 2025. The direction of a preliminary issue would not increase the prospect of settlement. It would be a serious think to overturn at a late stage the established way of managing the MTVIL and to vacate a trial date which had been fixed since 2022, particularly where no such objection was raised in relation to a previous trial date of January 2024. It would have the effect of defeating the reasonable expectations of the claimants and potentially wasting the work that had been done to prepare for the January 2025 trial.


Parties who wish to request a TPI should act quickly. Once trial dates are fixed and parties start to prepare for trial, it will become more difficult to persuade a court to charter a different course.