Case that exited portal was sufficiently exceptional to order non-fixed costs

A judge has allowed a claimant’s solicitors to seek costs on the standard basis after the personal injury claim they were handling settled outside the RTA portal but before allocation to the multi-track.

But Deputy District Judge Ayres, sitting in Wigan, stressed that the fact the case had been allocated to the multi-track was not in itself a reason to find the case exceptional.

In Crompton v Meadowcroft (Costs) [2021] EW Misc 20, the claim was submitted via the portal in January 2017 and exited 15 days later; liability was admitted in March 2017.

Proceedings were issued early in 2020 and the claim settled in July 2020, before it was allocated to the multi-track two months later. Had this happened before, fixed costs would not apply.

CPR 45.29J entitles a claimant to go beyond the fixed costs regime if there are exceptional circumstances making such appropriate.

The claimant argued that it was not the type of case that the fixed costs regime was intended to encompass, given the quantity of medical experts and disclosure. The solicitors had also to consider that their client might suffer disablement as a consequence of her injuries.

The defendant submitted that even if the solicitors had to carry out more work than for a typical portal case, that was the ‘swings and roundabouts’ nature of the scheme. Additional work did not in itself meet the test of exceptionality, she further argued.

Ruling the solicitors should be “properly reimbursed”, DDJ Ayres said he was “satisfied that the work required by those representing the claimant was significantly greater than might have been anticipated and that, in this case, there was exceptionality”.

He explained: “In taking that view, I am not simply being persuaded by the fact that the court, post-event, determined that this case should be allocated to the multi-track.

“I am taking into account the fact that there were an unusual number of expert witnesses, medical witnesses, who were addressing the issues deriving from the injuries sustained by the claimant; that there were unusual features; there was the potential that this claimant might suffer permanent disability, albeit and thankfully for her it would seem that did not prove to be the case; and I am satisfied that there were issues with regards to the calculation of her potential loss that merited investigation and a more extensive amount of work incurred.”

Faith Cosgrove (Costs Lawyer, Kain Knight, for and on behalf of Minster Law) for the claimant; Sarah Robson (instructed by BLM) for the defendant.

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Costs News
Published date
18 Nov 2021

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