A High Court judge has pleaded directly with lawyers in a long-running claim to help put an end to the dispute once and for all. David Stone, sitting as a deputy high court judge, said the issue before him in Popely & Anor v Popely & Ors was the latest salvo in what was described as an ‘orgy of litigation’ between two brothers concerning time share properties in Cyprus. The proceedings began 17 years ago and have made little progress since, with the present dispute seeking to decide who are the proper parties to the £4m claim. In the event, Stone rubber stamped permission to continue the claim as a derivative action, but having given his ruling, he revealed that he had urged counsel and those instructing them to help settle the dispute. Stone added: ’It does seem to be that that is in the interests of all the parties. Whilst the claim is for a substantial sum, 16 years of proceedings in England, St Vincent, France, Ireland and Gibraltar, must have put a significant dent in the sums in dispute. ‘If settlement cannot be achieved, then steps should be taken to determine this part of the dispute once and for all. Further delay drives up costs, without driving matters forward.’ Stone outlined that proceedings were initially filed by the elder of the two Popely brothers, John, against his younger brother Ronald.Whilst Ronald denies acting in breach of an oral agreement in relation to trusts established in St Vincent and the Grenadines and has filed a defence, there has not been a submission that the claim is hopeless. The court heard little progress has been made in the dispute because of the difficulties arising in different jurisdictions where individuals or companies have an interest. Stone said Ronald’s lawyers had been unable to advance any reason for disputing the original decision of Deputy Master Lloyd, beyond the change of counsel and solicitors. Their case raised no law changes or public interest requirements, and effectively amounted to seeking ‘another bite of the cherry’. Stone added: ’The hearing conducted before me was entirely different from the hearing conducted before Deputy Master Lloyd – five arguments were put to me that were not put to him. ‘This is not an acceptable way to conduct litigation. If it were, then any hearing before a master would, in effect, be a dry run – an opportunity to test arguments.’ The applicants to the appeal were represented by Timothy Evans, instructed by Drukker Solicitors. The respondents were represented by Christopher Boardman, instructed by Charles Russell Speechlys LLP.
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