High Court hands down Judgment in Barclay Brothers Ritz Hotel Bugging case

3VB’s Hefin Rees QC and Cleon Catsambis, instructed by David Chijner and Jane Colston of Brown Rudnick, with Jason Sugarman QC of Foundry Chambers, are representing Sir Frederick Barclay and his daughter Amanda Barclay in the ongoing and well-publicised dispute involving two branches of the Barclay family. The claim arises from the covert bugging of Sir Frederick Barclay and Amanda Barclay’s private and confidential conversations at the Ritz Hotel, London.

Following on from the ‘doorstep delivery-up orders’ that were successfully obtained in February 2020, the 5 Defendants were required to immediately hand up various ‘listed items’, including transcripts of the covert recordings. The Defendants withheld such items from inspection on the grounds of legal professional privilege (including by reason of selection and annotation). In the event, the Defendants abandoned these claims prior to the hearing but the Court was asked to determine a number of related matters, including the Defendants’ residual claims to privilege, the handling of the Claimants’ privileged information and the cost consequences of the Defendants’ privilege claims.

In a 2-day remote hearing before Mr Justice Warby on 6 and 7 May, the Court was told (see paragraph 9 of Judgment):

“The Recordings … captured over 1,000 separate conversations over a period of months. They run to 94 hours of audio recordings. A separate Wi-Fi bug was also used, which had been supplied by Quest Global Limited (‘Quest’), a private investigations firm … who invoiced for 405 hours of their time to listen and transcribe the recordings, which transcripts were then shared amongst the defendants and others. When transcribed by the [Supervising Solicitor] and the C’s solicitors … the Recordings run to over 2,800 pages. The recordings captured private, confidential, personal and C’s privileged conversations with Cs’ lawyers, C2’s trustees, bankers and businesspeople.”

The full judgment is available here.

Mr Justice Warby  ordered the Defendants to pay the Claimants’ costs of and incidental to the privilege claims, to be the subject of detailed assessment forthwith (pursuant to CPR r.47.1) and ordered an interim payment of £130,000 in respect of such costs.