Leeds City Council has been denied a ‘Security of Costs’ order in a case it is defending against allegations of unfair competion brought by local micro business Instaplanta (Yorkshire) Limited in a ruling dated 5 June 2023.
As we reported in April, Instaplanta has taken Leeds City Council to the Competition Appeal Tribunal alleging that the Council has stifled its business model by unresonably denying it permission to site planters at roadside sites across the city.
If the Security of Costs order had been granted it would have meant that Instaplanta would have to pay the Council’s costs, potentially over £1 million, if the Council won the case. The Council said they sought the order to protect public funds and services. However, the Tribunal Chair, Ben Tidswell, ruled that granting the order would have the effect of stifling the claim, as Instaplanta do not have the resources to fund such costs and would therefore have to withdraw their legal action.
The Chair implies that Leeds City Council (the Defendant) has a case to answer and in his ruling he states:
“The email and other documentary evidence which the Claimant relies on supports, on its face, a plausible theory of exclusionary conduct. However, it is clear that this question will be hotly contested by the Defendant at trial and I express no view on the likely outcome here.”
Commenting on the ruling, Malcolm Simpson told South Leeds Life:
“The best case scenario of Leeds City Council is that if they go to trial and win it will cost them £1 million, if they lose it could be £3 million. That’s Leeds Council Tax payers money. We, Leeds City Council and Instaplanta, are duty bound to try to resolve this matter out of court. And we, Instaplanta, want to do that.”
A Leeds City Council spokesperson said:
“We are not in a position to comment on this matter as it is the subject of an ongoing legal process.”
You can read the full ruling by clicking here. The full hearing of the case is due to take place on 6 November 2023.
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