Landmark Decision


A recent decision in the Inner House of the Court of Session has provided a potential beacon to pre-Litigation disputes UK wide. In the case of William Grant and Sons UK Brands Ltd v Lidl an Interdict was imposed upon the Defender which extended beyond Scottish Borders to be applied and enforceable within the whole of the UK – a landmark decision.

By Way of Background

William Grant and Sons Irish Brands Limited, creators of Hendricks Gin, raised an action against Lidl citing breach of their intellectual property rights, for their product, Hampstead Dry Gin. This action was instigated in the Outer House of the Court of Session where William Grant and Sons as the Pursuer were successful in obtaining an Interim Interdict against Lidl. The Interdict prevented Lidl from using the current label on their Hampstead Gin bottle, or from selling it in a dark, apothecary style bottle. These were the Hampstead bottle’s main comparative aspects to Hendricks. The scope of these restrictions at the time of the Interim Order being granted, was limited only to Scotland.

Lidl appealed the initial decision to the Inner House of the Court of Session on the basis that the Pursuer’s trademark did not include a dark apothecary style bottle. A cross appeal was simultaneously raised by the Pursuer requesting the restrictions upon design be extended to the remainder of the UK. Lidl’s appeal was rejected but the Pursuer’s cross appeal was granted. This prevented Lidl from using their current design while the action remained pending.

The Reasoning of the Court

In considering whether they had any scope to apply the Interdict UK-wide, the Scottish Court considered how the English Court would approach the case. Two key factors were relied on as part of the decision making process: –

  1. Lidl were domiciled in Scotland which is one of several locations in which the “perceived infringement” occurred, and this accordingly permitted the Scottish Court jurisdiction.
  2. The proceedings had not been raised elsewhere in the UK, whereas the potentially offending product was being distributed UK wide.

Implications of the Decision

Whilst the decision of the Court to reject Lidl’s appeal is hardly ground-breaking, the granting of the cross appeal to William Grant and Sons is a very important one. This is because the Court’s judgement appears to have altered the scope of Interim Interdicts available to a Pursuer raising an action of this nature in Scotland. The Scottish Courts have, in reaching their judgement, taken the step of aligning their stance with their English counterparts, seemingly allowing injunctions to be granted UK-wide.

Could this open the door for Interim Interdicts in family and other legal matters granted in Scotland, to be applied UK-wide going forward?

Only time will tell as to the effect that William Grant and Sons v Lidl will have upon UK wide litigation, but this decision has certainly created an opportunity for a “shake up” of the existing system.

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