Rebekah Vardy v Coleen Rooney: WAGs war and the law – Part 1
The ongoing legal battle between Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney has been well documented, with countless “Wagatha Christie” headlines and “bombshell” WhatsApp messages being shared by the press. But there are a number of lessons to be learned from this case, arising from a recent hearing of various pre-trial applications.
In the first of a two-part series, this article will explore how the war of the WAGs demonstrates the necessity to make applications promptly and act in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules (“CPR”).
Joining a new party to the proceedings
Mrs Rooney made an application to add an additional claim to the proceedings against Mrs Vardy’s agent, Caroline Watt, for misuse of private information.
The court acknowledged that there was “undoubtedly a strong factual connection between the main claim and the additional claim”. However, a key factor in the court’s decision against the application was that if the claim were to be added, the procedural timetable for additional claim would have to be considerably shortened in order to maintain the timetable to trial of the main claim.
In addition, the court cited Mrs Rooney’s failure to engage in the pre-action protocol as another important factor in deciding against the application. This serves as a warning to all to ensure compliance with the pre-action protocols – failure to do so may deprive a party from the opportunity to understand and narrow the issues in dispute, as was the case for Mrs Rooney. For more information on the pre-action protocols, click here.
Application to Re-Re-Amend the Defence
Mrs Rooney also sought permission to re-re-amend her Defence. Mrs Vardy argued that the proposed amendments were not necessary, concise or proportionate.
The court noted that the proposed Re-Re-Amended Defence was 61 pages – which is significantly more than the 25-page maximum in the Queen’s Bench Guide.
Given that the proposed amendments pleaded in extensive detail WhatsApp exchanges between Mrs Vardy and Ms Watt, the impression conveyed by the court was that the proposed amendments had been “drafted with a view to ensuring that the newly pleaded material would enter the public domain as early as possible” rather than to confine the pleading to the necessary information (in accordance with Practice Direction 53B)
Another interesting aspect of this case is disclosure. The second part of this series will discuss the applications in relation to disclosure, as well as some of the unusual circumstances of the documents disclosed by Mrs Vardy – which includes a phone being lost at sea! The full judgment made by the court can be read here.
In summary, this case is not just a war between WAGs, but serves as a warning not to delay applications or overlook the provisions of the CPR. Our expert commercial litigation team can assist with navigating the court rules and advise on litigation strategy. For more information, please call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry.