The opening day of the High Court hearing between Team Lotus and carmaker Group Lotus over who holds the rights to use the Lotus name got underway, with Justice Peter Smith telling both parties it would be in the interest of all concerned to get the matters sorted out as quickly as possible.
This has meant that the court hearing over the actual naming rights issue – originally set down for November – has been brought forward to a March date. Furthermore, Justice Smith rejected Group Lotus’ application for a summary judgement as to the issue of Team Lotus’ complaint over the early termination of the five-year license to use the ‘Lotus’ moniker.
Justice Smith ruled that no summary judgement was possible, but held the belief that the outstanding issues between both parties could probably be resolved through the trial, perhaps (we think) referring to a financial settlement.
This effectively means that the 2011 F1 season will kick off with two teams calling themselves ‘Lotus Renault’.
Group Lotus is continuing to leverage the Colin Chapman heritage factor, and its announcement – made shortly after the first day’s hearing, and perhaps to try and soften the blow of the judge’s ruling – that Nigel Mansell had been signed as part of its branding programme continues along that vein
Justice Smith – who is, coincidentally, Malaysian-born – has been involved in plenty of controversy during his stint as a High Court judge, most famously ruling on a plagiarism case in favour of the Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.