Even Justice Jackson cannot figure out what exactly Multiplex and steel contractor Cleveland Bridge are demanding this time round
Chances of a swift resolution in the latest round of the Wembley court battle between Multiplex and steel contractor CBUK were clearly non-existent right from the kick-off of the hearing last Monday.
“The first thing I want to mention,” CBUK counsel Adrian Williamson told the court, “Is why we are here. Erm…. Not in an existential sense, of course.”
Perhaps it would have been easier for Mr Williamson to regale the Technology and Construction court with his philosophical views as to how exactly those present had evolved to the point where they had swapped earth’s primordial soup for a dusty corner of the court, than to present a clear case for damages in what is set to become the industry’s longest running war.
Crammed into court seven again after what seems an all-to-brief escape from the rigours of the six-week trial between the two last summer, even Justice Jackson was having trouble working out exactly what the parties were upset about this time.
“If the pair of you could decide exactly what it is I am to decide, I would find it most helpful,” said the long-suffering Judge, after the opposing counsels had confessed that they had not yet agreed the exact nature of their dispute over payment, the first instalment of what, at the current rate, is set to be a very long damages trial indeed.
When up against it, however, blaming technology for your problems never fails. Describing the lengthy correspondence between the parties, Multiplex QC Roger Stewart muttered with some embarrassment: “There follows some desultory correspondence on whether a PDF constitutes an electronic copy, which for the present purposes we can skip over.”
As with many arguments, a failure or indeed straight refusal to understand seemed to be the essence of the day. “This is your email, Mr Muldoon, to an unpronounceable gentleman at [Dutch firm] Hollandia,” Williamson said at one point, clearly ignorant of Big Brother’s illustration of the trouble such comments can cause.
Judge Jackson’s tolerance of Muldoon’s barely intelligible mutterings was little better: “Please slow down, Mr Muldoon or your words of wisdom will be lost for posterity.”
We’re all destined for another six months of court appearances together on this case, Mr Jackson – this is no time for wishful thinking.