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Partner and head of department Nick Wells and solicitor Kelly Savage, along with counsel Daniel Goodkin of 4 Pump Court, successfully represented the Claimants in the second highest court in the English legal system.

After a full day of legal argument in the Court of Appeal in London, in a hearing live-streamed on the Court of Appeal video channel, three renowned appeal judges, Lord Justices Arnold, Popplewell and Coulson handed down their written judgments today. The appeal judges unanimously dismissed the Defendants’ appeal on all grounds, upholding the victory secured in the earlier High Court judgment.

There were two issues before the Court of Appeal. The first was that for many years, online property giants Rightmove and Zoopla have informed their members that online lettings agents cannot place adverts for properties to be let by other lettings agencies. This was important to the Claimants as they were alleged to be in breach of warranties following a corporate transaction comprising of the sale of an online property lettings company.

The High Court judge had decided that Rightmove’s and Zoopla’s terms did not have the contractual effect they have consistently put forward and did not prevent online lettings agents from placing adverts for other lettings agents. The Court of Appeal has now upheld this decision.

The second issue concerned the meaning of “non-disclosure” in the context of a warranty limitation of liability clause within the corporate transaction sale and purchase agreement. This was important to the Claimants in being able to rely on disclosures that were outside of the disclosure letter for the purposes of the Defendants’ attempts to overcome a contractual time limit for warranty claims.

The High Court judge had decided that the analysis of any “non-disclosure” was not limited to the disclosure letter. The Court of Appeal also upheld this decision.

Nick Wells commented on the decision:

“Having identified two questions to tactically put before the Court for summary judgment, with a view to improving the Claimants’ position within the litigation and reducing costs in the long term, it is a great relief and source of pride that the High Court and the Court of Appeal agreed with our analysis on the interpretation of the key contractual provisions.

We also managed to secure full costs awards following both hearings, meaning that we have secured important judgments on two key principles within the claim without any net cost to the Claimants, which is even more satisfying.”

The High Court judgment can be read here: Butcher and another v Pike and others [2020] EWHC 3362 (QB)

The Court of Appeal judgment can be read here: Butcher and another v Pike and others [2021] EWCA civ 1407 (09 September 2021).

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