Trant Engineering Ltd v Mott McDonald Ltd

Citation: [207] EWHC 2061 (TCC)

This was an application for an interim injunction for access to design data stored on licensed software. The claim arose out of a project to build a power station on the Falkland Islands. Trant engaged MML to provide design consultancy services while Trant was in the process of tendering for the full contract with the MoD. MML was to implement software called ProjectWise. A dispute broke out regarding the scope of the work and payment. Consequently MML revoked the passwords that had been provided to Trant in order to access ProjectWise meaning that Trant had no access to the design data. Trant sought an interim injunction to allow it to access the design data on ProjectWise.

O’Farrell J reviewed the authorities on mandatory injunctions and decided that an injunction should be granted. She considered that there was a serious issue to be tried. On the evidence before the court it was impossible to say conclusively whether there was or was not a contract. Furthermore, damages would not be an adequate remedy for Trant because damages under the alleged contract were capped at £1 million.  The judge also considered it arguable that damages would not adequately compensate MML. If MML could successfully show that there was no contract, they would be able to charge a premium for providing the design data. This advantage would be removed if the injunction was granted.

Turning to the balance of convenience test, O’Farrell J held that the balance of convenience lay in granting the injunction sought. There was a high degree of assurance that Trant would be able to make out some contract under which it was entitled to the design data. In those circumstances she granted the injunction and ordered Trant to pay £475,000 into court on account of the amount invoiced by MML.

Justin Mort QC acted for the Defendant.

Full Judgment

Counsel

Justin Mort QC

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