easyGroup loses in Court of Appeal and lessons when giving witness statements

On Tuesday 10th October 2023 the Court of Appeal dismissed easyGroup’s appeal against the decision of Bacon J in easyGroup Ltd v Nuclei Ltd & Ors [2022] EWHC 901 (Ch) (13 April 2022) ( The defendants, who include Regus Group Limited and IWG PLC, operate and were facing allegations by eG that they infringe easyGroup’s registered trade marks for EASYOFFICE.

The judgment was handed down on 27th October 2023 and is available here. This is a very clear result against easyGroup in a case where, at first blush, one might have fancied their chances.

YouTube has the whole hearing at EasyGroup Ltd (claimant/appellant) v Nuclei Limited T/A Easy Offices & ors (defendants/respondents) - YouTube

If you are short on time, then watch through to the end from around 55 minutes. easyGroup’s barrister is furthest from the camera.  Shortly after there is a 5 minute recess before the decision is delivered. 

As an aside, an interesting insight is given in Bacon J’s April 2022 judgement:

easyGroup’s principal witness was Sir Stelios, who is the founder, ultimate beneficial owner and director of easyGroup.  He provided a witness statement for these proceedings, and also relied on a previous witness statement given in October 2009 for the purpose of his defamation claim against Mr [Mark] Dixon [of Regus] and others. When cross-examined Sir Stelios was revealed to be a deeply unimpressive witness. He was argumentative, giving answers that were defensive to the point of implausibility, and repeatedly contradicted points set out in one or other of his witness statements. It was clear that he had a poor recollection of the events that formed the background to these proceedings. It also became evident that his most recent witness statement contained substantial material that (contrary to the requirements of Practice Direction 57AC) was not within Sir Stelios’ personal knowledge and recollection, but was instead drafted by his lawyers, giving evidence of points on which Sir Stelios had no clear recollection whatsoever. In those circumstances I unfortunately have to conclude that I can place very little weight on his evidence save where it is corroborated by other evidence in the case, including contemporaneous documents.

This is an important lesson for those giving and settling trial witness statements - PRACTICE DIRECTION 57AC – TRIAL WITNESS STATEMENTS IN THE BUSINESS AND PROPERTY COURTS (