11th Aug 2023


Stephen Hackett (instructed by Griffin Law) for the Claimant

HH Judge Pelling KC:


This is the trial of a claim by the claimant for (a) damages for an admitted breach of contract; (b) damages for breach of an alleged but disputed duty of confidence; (c) a remedy for alleged but disputed unjust enrichment and/or damages in respect of two causes of action in which it is alleged the defendant is vicariously liable for the acts and omissions of one of its employees, Professor Alexandra Sinclair, who is Professor of Neurology and Head of the Metabolic Neurology Research Group at the defendant.

In relation to the breach of contract claim, the defendant admits breach but denies causation and disputes that quantum should be calculated in the manner contended for by the claimant.

The breach of confidence claim added nothing since it is not alleged by the claimant that it can recover by way of damages for breach of confidence more than it is entitled to recover as damages for the admitted breach of contract. Unsurprisingly therefore, it was abandoned at the start of the trial. The unjust enrichment claim was abandoned too although later in the first day of the trial. That claim was correctly abandoned for the short reasons given following my summary below of the relevant background facts. An understanding of those facts is required before why it was appropriate for the claimant to abandon its unjust enrichment claim can be understood.

The vicarious liability claims were (i) a claim that Professor Sinclair procured a breach of the defendant’s contract with the claimant that is the subject of the breach of contract claim and (ii) an alleged unlawful means conspiracy. Neither of these claims has been made against Professor Sinclair personally, who is not a party to (though she is a witness in) these proceedings. The first of the vicarious liability claims added nothing to the claim against the defendant for damages for its admitted breach of contract and the second was disputed on the basis the defendant is not vicariously liable in respect of the alleged participation of Professor Sinclair in the alleged conspiracy. In any event this claim too adds nothing in the sense that it will not enable the claimant to recover more than is recoverable for breach of contract. Equally unsurprisingly therefore, these claims too were abandoned at the start of the trial. It is an unfortunate feature of this case that such allegations should have been made against Professor Sinclair in a way that prevented her from defending herself. I record therefore that the effect of the withdrawal of the vicarious liability claims is that the allegations made against Professor Sinclair are accepted by the claimant to be without foundation.

In those circumstances, this trial is limited to the determination of the causation and quantum issues that arise in relation to the claimant’s admitted breach of contract. The scheme of this judgment is therefore (a) to set out the relevant background and terms of the relevant agreement between the parties and summarise who gave evidence at the trial; (b) to explain why the unjust enrichment claim was correctly abandoned; (c) to determine the causation issues that arises and (d) to determine the amount, if any, that the claimant is entitled to recover as damages for breach of contract.

Continue reading this Judgment here.


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