The private investigator at the heart of the phone hacking scandal wins High Court action to enforce costs agreement
The Chancellor, Sir Andrew Morritt, determined on Wednesday 21 December 2011 that Glenn Mulcaire and NGN had concluded a valid agreement by which NGN agreed to indemnity Mr Mulcaire from the costs and damages arising from the voicemail interception litigation to which they were joint defendants and that that agreement had not been properly determined and was still subsisting.
NGN is therefore obliged under the contract to continue to pay Mr Mulcaire’s legal costs in respect of the claims.
The agreement at the heart of the dispute had been concluded in June 2010. In late July 2011 Rupert and James Murdoch were questioned by the Select Committee for Culture Media and Sport as to whether NGN were paying Mr Mulcaire’s legal costs. It was suggested to them that there was something improper or disreputable about such an arrangement. Mr Murdoch (jnr) told the Committee that NGN would cease paying Mr Mulcaire’s costs and subsequently NGN stopped paying Mr Mulcaire’s costs.
Mr Mulcaire sued to enforce the agreement. NGN argued that no agreement had been concluded, but that if it had been, it was determinable on notice; and that in any event such an agreement would be void by virtue of being contrary to public policy.
The trial of the action was expedited so that the question could be resolved before the trial of the lead cases in the voicemail interception claims. After hearing evidence from Mr Mulcaire’s solicitor, Sarah Webb, the Chancellor found that the agreement was a valid contract that was not void for public policy reasons, and that it had not been determined and was therefore still subsisting.
NGN told the Judge at the trial that if he found for Mr Mulcaire they would re-instate the indemnity and that there would be no need for coercive orders.
The judgment will enable Mr Mulcaire to be represented at the hearing of the voicemail interception claims. There are currently 57 such claims pending before the High Court and Mr Mulcaire is a defendant to all of them. 5RB‘s Alexandra Marzec has been representing Mr Mulcaire in those claims.