The former owner of the company which owned 100% of the company which owned 85% of the shares in the company which owned Rangers Football Club (whew) finds himself scheduled to be in court again next week. Starting on Tuesday 13th November, and for the following three days, the court lists disclose that a Proof (or hearing of evidence) is listed in the case of Kim Whyte v Craig Whyte.
This is the culmination of the action which commenced last year in relation to Mrs Whyte’s claim for aliment (or maintenance) for herself from her estranged husband, and which has been back in court in the meantime as a result of Mr Whyte allegedly failing to stick to the deal.
First of all, it is highly unlikely that the case will go ahead.
The main reason for that is that Court of Session proceedings can be very expensive and therefore, for the pursuer, it is only worthwhile proceeding if the defender is going to be able to pay what they are ordered to hand over and also meet the pursuer’s legal bill.
If both parties have the money to fight the case, then especially in a family action like this, the costs of a four-day proof would likely be far in excess of the money awarded by the judge.
However, it takes two to compromise, and so far Mr Whyte has not shown, in his public life, much desire to do so.
Secondly the case is listed with the names of the respective legal representatives. Mrs Whyte has bto as her solicitors, whilst Mr Whyte is noted as being represented by Harper Macleod.
As that firm tried to have Mr Whyte declared bankrupt recently, and the petition they raised being dismissed suggested he had been forced to pay up, it is unlikely, although not impossible, that they are still acting for him. If they are, then they will have insisted on a very large payment to account in advance of the case. I suspect they will not be acting for him.
In that event, Mr Whyte may not have had sufficient time to engage a new lawyer, and if so, there may be no alternative to the case being adjourned to a later date. As this hearing in November was fixed in July, then a postponement would probably take the case well into next year.
On the other hand, Mr Whyte may already have new lawyers acting for him. As well as this case, there is a separate court action, raised this year, proceeding in the Court of Session where again Mr Whyte is the Defender and his wife the pursuer. By implication, if the first case is about aliment, then the latter action will be about something else relating to the parties’ separation.
Now, when the action was raised, the solicitors acting for Mrs Whyte were again bto, but when the case called in court in August, the agents acting were now stated to be Blackadders for Mrs Whyte and Gillespie MacAndrew for Mr Whyte.
So there might be solicitors instructed already.
If the case was to proceed, and related to aliment, then this would involve extensive evidence about Mr Whyte’s business, property interests and income and expenditure. Mr Whyte night not welcome such scrutiny as he faces questioning in relation to the liquidation of Tixway UK Ltd, and litigation from Ticketus over his Rangers dealings.
Finally, there may be little value in attending at the court next week to spectate at the case, if the intention is to write about it.
The Scottish Courts page recording Contempt of Court Act orders notes that, in the case of Kim Whyte v Craig Whyte (although it does not specify which case it relates to), an order was made under Section 4 (2) of the 1981 Act.
That section reads, as far as relevant, as follows:-
Contemporary reports of proceedings.
(1) Subject to this section a person is not guilty of contempt of court under the strict liability rule in respect of a fair and accurate report of legal proceedings held in public, published contemporaneously and in good faith.
(2) In any such proceedings the court may, where it appears to be necessary for avoiding a substantial risk of prejudice to the administration of justice in those proceedings, or in any other proceedings pending or imminent, order that the publication of any report of the proceedings, or any part of the proceedings, be postponed for such period as the court thinks necessary for that purpose.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (1) of this section a report of proceedings shall be treated as published contemporaneously—
(a) in the case of a report of which publication is postponed pursuant to an order under subsection (2) of this section, if published as soon as practicable after that order expires;
Therefore there is, or was, an order in force in this, or the other, action restricting reporting of all or part of the proceedings. So anyone who turns up, notebook at the ready and pencils sharpened, may not find they have the chance to report what happens even if the case does go ahead.
And if you do go, please don’t try tweeting from the court – who knows where that might lead!
Posted by Paul McConville