Thursday, 4 March 2010

Looney v Trafigura: Part 1 – My Interest

There are two parts to this post, this one giving some background to my interest and the other (coming tomorrow, hopefully) telling the story, such as it is, of the case to date.

Since I became involved, “hooked” might be a better description, in following the detail of the Trafigura story in early January, this is my first opportunity to post anything factual. 

Firstly, though, let me give some of the background.

On 8 January I posted as follows:

‘The Times, Telegraph and Guardian all reported that Trafigura and their lawyers, Carter-Ruck, were going to the High Court this afternoon.  In the words of The Times,

“Trafigura, the oil trader, is seeking to prevent publication of details of a new £6 million claim that it faces in the High Court.

The global company is being sued by an Irish management consultant, Kieran Looney, whom it hired to improve its management programme.

He claims that Trafigura breached their agreement by terminating his contract and is seeking £6m. The company denies the allegations.

Now the oil trader is going to the High Court to ensure the documents are “sealed”, preventing the allegations being aired, although they have previously been publicly available.”    ‘

That day none of those papers’ websites carried any word of the outcome suggested to me that Trafigura had won and that another super-injunction had been imposed.  The next day too – nothing.  Eventually I was on the point of giving up: there was no news anywhere and, so, I emailed Guido Fawkes suggesting that they/he might be able to get some answers.  The polite reply, and it was short but polite, was to do this myself …… and I did. 

Rather than being reactive,as I have always been as a blogger,  I became a questioner, a chaser, and I found out that neither side was talking but the “word” was that Trafigura had lost.  More questions to more people elicited little, if anything, worthwhile until last week when the court papers (Looney’s claims), which Trafigura had attempted to seal, arrived in my Inbox along with Trafigura’s defence to the claims.  All papers I must state here are publicly available through the High Court in London and my copies were obtained through public channels.

Given that the court papers are available confirms, what all knew, that Trafigura had failed at court on 8 January.

Having read the court papers I can understand why, other than one article, no newspapers have mentioned the Looney case since 8 January: there is no story.  I believe that mention was made on 8 January ONLY BECAUSE it involved Trafigura AND BECAUSE Trafigura were going to court to prevent public access to documents.

Without these two aspects this seems as though it is a typical case of two companies falling out over issues of importance to them and going to court to resolve the matter.

However, having put so much effort into getting access to the papers I am going to have a stab at telling the story of Looney v Trafigura and rather than having one very long post I’ll tell the story of Looney v Trafigura in tomorrow’s post.

I intend to publish the papers online if I can clarify the legal position.  I can’t imagine that it can be illegal to publish online the web documents which are publicly available but, thankfully, I am no lawyer.

I’m off now to start tomorrow’s post.

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