Look up ‘patience’ in the dictionary and it is possible you will simply see a citation for Ahmed & Anor v Ahmed, with a picture of David Halpern QC.
Sitting as a deputy High Court judge in the Chancery Division, Halpern handled the shareholding dispute between two brothers with remarkable restraint, at one stage resisting the temptation to channel Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet.
Proceedings, the judge pointed out, started in November but have already spawned a number of interim hearings which have achieved little and which ‘appear to have been characterised by point-scoring on each side’.
A day before the latest hearing last month, the claimants submitted a 747-page bundle with no skeleton. After a bit of chasing, the claimants’ lawyer asked for a 10pm deadline (rejected by the court), and when it arrived the document ‘did little to assist’ in preparing for the hearing. The defendant was no better, emailing the skeleton at 6.10pm the day before the hearing, when of course the office was shut, and including two hours’ worth of background reading.
During the hearing, Halpern adjourned for 30 minutes to ask counsel to narrow, or at least define, the issues being argued over. No agreement was reached. As the judge wearily noted, ‘it is all too tempting to say “a plague on both your houses” but it is clearly important to all the parties to devise an order’.
Halpern did indeed plough on and made an order to keep the litigation ticking over. We will watch with interest.