Team Lotus came out of its first official legal skirmish with Group Lotus adamant that it will win its case and be able to use its famous name in Formula 1 this year. It's rival was equally confident that the legal dispute would be settled in its favor. (Click here for story.)
Britain's High Court on Monday rejected a bid by Group Lotus for a summary judgment on issues relating to what Team Lotus claims was an early termination of a five-year licensing deal it originally put in place from 2010. But while the judge stated that he felt the dispute could only be settled with a full-blown case, he also said that he wanted the trial to begin as early as possible. A push to try and get the matter into court before the start of the 2011 season could not be realized, but a March 21 date has been penciled in for the proceedings to begin.
With that date falling between the first two races of the season in Bahrain and Australia, it means that unless there is an out-of-court settlement in the next few weeks, Team Lotus will definitely be starting the campaign with its current name. A statement issued by Team Lotus after the court hearing said it was pleased with how the proceedings went and that it remained bullish the final outcome would go its way.
"Team Lotus is delighted that we were successful at the Summary Judgment Application hearing today and that the judge threw out Group Lotus' application even before hearing the arguments of the barristers on either side," said the statement. "Although this decision was never in doubt, it means that we start the 2011 season under the Team Lotus name. Whilst we expected that the judge would refuse this application, it is good to have the decision in black and white.
"The judge also felt that it was in everyone's best interests to bring the hearing date for the full trial forward and that is now fixed for March 21 rather than us having to wait until autumn 2011 or even later. We remain confident that we will succeed at the full trial and we can now focus on the challenges ahead in the 2011 FIA Formula 1 World Championship."
Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes posted on his Twitter feed that he, too, was delighted with the current situation.
"Very, very happy over the judgment today," he wrote. "And extremely happy that full trial brought forward to March 21. The good do always eventually win."