Laura Thurgood and Danielle Laight, from the West Midlands, are battling over who had the right to use the name “Wash Wiggle and Wag” for their rival dog grooming businesses
Two canine beauticians locked in a “vicious” High Court turf war have been told to settle their differences outside court or risk blowing a fortune on the case.
Laura Thurgood and Danielle Laight are battling over who had the right to use the name “Wash Wiggle and Wag” for their rival dog grooming businesses in the West Midlands.
Ms Thurgood claimed the “trademark” was hers and her former colleague wrongly used it when they parted ways, “destroying” her £90,000-a-year business with a “vicious” online smear campaign.
The pair are now locked in a legal dogfight, with Ms Thurgood claiming damages for the loss of her sunken business, but were last week told by Judge Richard Hacon to sort out their differences without wasting any more money on lawyers.
During a pre-trial hearing, he told the pair – who he described as “not millionaires” – that they risked spending a fortune on what is “not a big dispute”. He warned them: “Believe me, you will be spending much more money if this goes to trial.”
In documents lodged at the court, Ms Thurgood’s barrister, Ian Silcock, says that she set up a thriving dog grooming business under the “Wash Wiggle and Wag” name in 2018.
She bought a special mobile grooming salon to ply her trade, operating throughout her chosen territory from the back of the van. In June 2018, she and other family members teamed up with Ms Laight, another local pet groomer, to help grow the enterprise, using her as a contractor as part of a business agreement, she says.
Ms Thurgood claims her business began to take off over the next two years as “Wash Wiggle and Wag’s” reputation took root in the community, pulling in over 700 clients – with Ms Laight carrying out around 2,600 grooming sessions for her business.
But in May 2020, the two women’s working relationship fell apart when Ms Laight left a letter terminating the partnership in Ms Thurgood’s van. The barrister says that since then, the “Wash Wiggle and Wag” name has been pinched by Ms Laight for her own business.
He also claims Ms Thurgood has been “viciously” libelled by her former partner on Instagram, Facebook and in a series of texts which claimed Ms Thurgood’s grooming had “resulted in a number of dogs being injured and their owners incurring large bills from vets to treat the injured dogs.”
In court, Mr Silcock claimed the alleged defamatory publications were the beginning of the end for Ms Thurgood’s dog grooming service, which was driven out of business.
He said she would be claiming damages for the loss of profits, pointing out that Ms Thurgood had projected an annual turnover of about £90,000 going forward.
The case reached court for a pre-trial directions hearing last week, during which Judge Hacon urged Ms Laight, who represented herself, and Ms Thurgood’s lawyers to settle the case outside court.
He said: “It is my view that the first thing that is going to happen is that the case will be stayed so that the parties can seek mediation. The reason I am saying this, Ms Laight, is firstly I am guessing you and Ms Thurgood aren’t anxious to throw money away on this litigation.
“This is not a big dispute. Really, spending a lot of money on litigating things is not a good idea. It really isn’t. I hope there will be a mediation. It will save you and Ms Thurgood a great deal of money if you can settle the matter. If unfortunately you can’t, it will all roll on.”
Ms Thurgood’s claim had been for passing off, defamation, malicious falsehood and breach of database rights, but the judge ordered that it proceed as a passing off claim alone.
In her written defence, Ms Laight disputes that Ms Thurgood operated under the trade mark “Wash Wiggle & Wag” and insists that social media messages and texts she sent were all justified.
One of the issues in the case will be whether Ms Thurgood and Ms Laight were partners in business, with Ms Laight telling the judge it had been discussed but never put into writing.
She agreed with the suggestion of mediation to try to achieve a settlement, telling the judge: “I would like this to be resolved as amicably and as quickly as possible.” If the case cannot be settled, it will continue to a full trial at the High Court later this year.