CA corrects judge’s erroneous part 36 decision
The Court of Appeal has overturned the decision of a High Court judge who was wrongly told by counsel that indemnity costs were the default order when a claimant failed to beat a part 36 offer. It said Mr Justice Andrew Baker “did not receive the assistance” from the defendant’s counsel that he should have done “and therefore fell into error”.
Shalaby v London North West Healthcare NHS Trust  EWCA Civ 1323 saw Andrew Baker J dismiss the claimant’s breach of contract claim. He also awarded the defendant indemnity costs as it had made a part 36 offer of nearly £11,000. However, part 36.17 only makes indemnity costs the default order if the claimant beats an offer, and not if he fails to.
Lord Justice Singh said: “The only basis on which costs were ordered to be on an indemnity basis was that this was required by CPR part 36. That was wrong as a matter of law, as is now conceded by the respondent. Accordingly, I would substitute an order that the costs had to be paid on the standard basis.”
MoJ to refund “overcharged” claimants
The Ministry of Justice is setting up a refund scheme for litigants who were overcharged for their civil court fees, the Law Society Gazette has reported.
It said claimants starting proceedings in the High Court and County Court since 2016 have been charged £308 rather than the £205 they should have been. The figure covers cases – usually stage 3 personal injury portal claims – with a value estimated between £3,000 and £5,000. These litigants should have been paying the lower fee to begin proceedings but their claim was wrongly categorised as one for “any other remedy”.
Civil Liability Bill remains on track
The Civil Liability Bill stayed intact on Tuesday after peers tried to introduce pro-claimant changes during its report stage. The government narrowly defeated attempts to remove the compensation tariff altogether and restrict the increase in the small claims limit to £1,500.
The government did offer a few concessions, including that the Lord Chancellor should consult the Lord Chief Justice when setting the tariff. Justice spokesman Lord Keen of Elie also said the Ministry of Justice was considering whether to exempt vulnerable road users – such as pedestrians and cyclists – from the small claims rise, as it already has from the whiplash reforms.
It was looking at requiring insurance companies to issue reports on how they have passed on savings made from the reforms to consumers, he said.