April 9th, 2020 by James Goudie KC

BES v Cheshire West and Chester BC (2020) EWHC 701 (QB) concerns the extent of a local authority’s duty of disclosure in litigation arising out of a trading standards investigation. All 22 local authorities carrying out trading standards functions in the North West Region had signed  Protocol identifying the Defendant as the lead partner for the Regional Investigation Team. The other authorities, including Lancashire County Council (LCC), delegated trading standards functions to the Defendant. The Protocol encouraged the exchange of information and mutual assistance. It fell short of establishing a right, or even a presumption, that certain categories of documents were, without more, to be provided on request.

One of the issues that arose was the parameters of the circumstances in which a party may be held to have the requisite degree of control over the documents of a third party notwithstanding the absence of a legal right thereto. This concerned documents of four named individuals employed not by the Defendant but by LCC. The Judge was not satisfied that the Defendant had the requisite degree of control over the LCC documents.

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