AUGUST 4, 2003
It's judgement day
Unless there is a last-minute upset, this afternoon Mr Justice Langley, the judge who heard the Jordan-Vodafone case, is to deliver his judgement. The Jordan team awaits the result with some trepidation. Jordan initiated the action claiming that Vodafone agreed a sponsorship deal worth $150m over five years. But the case revealed that there was not much evidence to back up the claim and the Vodafone legal team deftly highlighted the weaknesses in the Jordan argument.
On Friday Eddie Jordan issued a press statement saying that the team had withdrawn the claim but this last-minute admission of defeat came with a sting in the tail. An application to dismiss the case was rejected by the judge, who ruled that the 11th hour settlement was "stifling the court from publicly announcing its decision" and was "designed to create a serious injustice which this court should not tolerate".
The judge said that Eddie Jordan could appeal that decision if he could find another judge willing to listen but said that unless that happened he would deliver his judgement on Monday afternoon.
Jordan and his lawyers know what is in the judgement because drafts of the document are submitted to legal teams before publication and it was this that appears to have prompted Jordan's last ditch attempt to get out of the Vodafone action. The behavior of the team in recent days has suggested that the judgement is not going to be favorable. At Hockenheim Jordan was trying hard to generate good publicity and pulling in favours with members of the press.
The main thrust of the argument was that the judgement will not affect the financial health of the team, despite a legal bill of something like $4.5m. The good news for Jordan is that Vodafone does not look likely to go after the team for damages, which it could do if the judgement is harsh.
Formula 1 has a short collective memory but it is only a year since Arrows boss Tom Walkinshaw was hit head-on by a highly-critical High Court judgement which derailed the team and ultimately led to the collapse of the whole TWR empire.
No-one is suggesting that the same thing will happen to Jordan but the team is weak and bad publicity is not going to help.
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