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Costly nine-day hearing for £2 damages winner Marathon

17th Mar 2017

Marathon Asset Management LLP, an investment management business, have just been told they will face a substantial bill for turning down an earlier settlement offer after winning damages of just £2. They had failed to secure £15m from two of their departing staff.

The company initially pursued James Seddon and Luke Bridgeman for misuse of data, after the pair copied files before they left the company. However, after a nine-day hearing it was ruled by Mr Justice Leggatt that damages should be minimal as Marathon had not suffered a loss.

It transpired that earlier last year Seddon and Bridgeman had offered £1.5m between them to settle the claim. The court considered this a ‘game changer’ that indicated Marathon was out for as much money as possible, casting their continued claims in a new, negative light.

‘Marathon’s decision not to accept the offer of £1.5m and instead to pursue a claim for “jackpot” damages makes it fair, in my opinion, to treat Marathon as litigating thereafter entirely at its own risk and potential cost.’ Leggatt said.

Leggatt had initially ruled that Bridgeman would be held responsible for investigation costs for the claim of misuse, but after Bridgeman returned the files and admitted breaching his contract, the court battle evolved into a dispute over the amount of damage to be claimed.

‘A party which pursues a claim for damages for misuse of confidential information without evidence of any significant misuse, but in the expectation that such evidence will or may be uncovered through the litigation process, takes the risk that such evidence will not be uncovered because it does not in fact exist,’ Leggatt continued.

He eventually ruled that Marathon would pay Bridgeman’s costs for defending the claim.