Andrew Sutcliffe QC and Tom Rainsbury succeed in securing disclosure orders against Ed Sheeran and other claimants

In Sheeran v Chokri [2021] EWHC 3553 (Ch), Meade J granted several orders for disclosure under the Disclosure Pilot for the Business and Property Courts against the songwriters, Ed Sheeran and Johnny McDaid, and other claimants. The orders were made in ongoing copyright proceedings in which the claimants are seeking a declaration of non-infringement in respect the song Shape of You.

The defendants applied for orders under paragraphs 17 and 18 of the Disclosure Pilot, arguing that there had been significant shortcomings with the claimants’ disclosure. The claimants opposed the application.

Meade J determined that there were ‘real and significant concerns’ regarding the claimants’ disclosure, including: Mr Sheeran had delegated his disclosure obligations to his manager (described as ‘a matter of concern’); documents had been disclosed as ‘diary entries’ when they were not in fact diary entries; and newly discovered ambient recordings had been disclosed on the eve of the hearing. With regards to Mr Sheeran and Mr McDaid, the Judge determined that ‘it is important that people in their position take responsibility for their own disclosure’.

The Judge made a number of orders against the claimants, including orders for the claimants to produce all Logic and ProTools project folders and files for Shape of You, for the claimants to search for and produce relevant entries in their diaries, and for Mr Sheeran to search for and produce all recordings and notes relating to Shape of You and to make a witness statement stating that ‘he has personally satisfied  himself that his disclosure obligations have been met. The judgment also contains further guidance on applications for disclosure under paragraph 17 of the Disclosure Pilot.

Andrew Sutcliffe QC and Tom Rainsbury were instructed by Jacqueline Brown and Simon Jackson of Keystone Law.

The trial is due to commence in early March 2022.

The judgment can be read in full here.