Shell faces new threat to Smart card scheme

Don Marketing, the sales promotion agency embroiled in a legal wrangle with Shell UK, is threatening to send letters to Shell’s 1,700 service stations warning owners about the legal implications of operating the Smart card scheme.

Managing director John Donovan intends to send a “letter before action” to a sample station – Tim Brinton Cars in Bury St Edmunds – then roll out the mailing to the entire network at a later date.

The proposed “letter before action” warns that Don Marketing has the legal right to seek damages against any company participating in the Shell Smart scheme without consent from John Donovan.

Shell’s solicitor DJ Freeman has written to Donovan’s solicitors Royds Treadwell warning that “the sending of such notices amounts to an inducement to breach their contractual commitments to our clients, and as such, are unlawful”.

But Donovan is adamant that the letter will be sent even though the full mailing to all service stations will cost thousands of pounds.

“It is our firm intention to send it and if stations continue to operate the Smart scheme we will issue further proceedings to stop them,” he says.

Don Marketing has issued two writs alleging Shell UK breached copyright on the concept idea used to create the Smart card loyalty programme and for alleged defamation of Donovan in a press statement (MW April 16 and 23).

Shell has been warned by its solicitors not to speak to the press following Donovan’s defamation action.

The company issued a state ment saying: “The proper forum for resolving these matters is in court and proceedings are moving forward to enable them to be resol-ved there.”

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