Insurer DAS and credit hire specialist Helphire are wrangling over the interpretation of a court judgment.

DAS last week issued a statement alongside a copy of a draft county court judgment of the case - Hart v. Jayne - which DAS said showed a particular hire agreement was a "sham".

The case, which began essentially as a small claims dispute between two individuals, concerned, among other elements, the question of car hire charges and excesses on the policy.

Speaking after the amended judgment was issued on Monday, Judge David White criticised the issuing to the press of the draft.

He said: "It is difficult to see how reporting could have been thought appropriate - let alone for it to have been disseminated with gusto and glee in the insurance press."

He added: "Even if I was persuaded that costs should be awarded to the defendant, given publication of the document they should not be."

The judge upheld the draft judgment, which was against the claimant backed by Helphire, but noted that: "I cannot find that the Helphire agreement was a sham."

Helphire said it was considering its position over legal action against those who distributed and reported the draft.

Legal director Peter Holding said: "Lawyers have been instructed and letters sent to various parties."

A spokesman for DAS - which had no direct involvement in the case - said it was considering its response.