Allowing an appeal from a decision of HHJ Baucher in the Central London County Court Mrs Justice McGowan found than an offer to accept “nil pounds with an admission of liability plus reasonable costs, to be assessed if not agreed” made by a claimant in the course of an action against the police for false imprisonment and assault was a “significant concession” and therefore a genuine Part 36 offer.
Following the decision of Birss J in J P Finnegan v Spiers (t/a Frank Spiers Licensed Conveyancers)  EWHC 3064 (Ch) which we reported on last year, HHJ Rawlings has found that the court has no power to award a payment on account of costs in circumstances where the substantive action has settled by way of acceptance of a Part 36 Offer.
Following our recent report on the case of Hossaini v EDS Recruitment Ltd in which the Employment Tribunal had wrongly considered and taken into a “Without Prejudice” (as opposed to a “Without Prejudice Save As To Costs” offer) when determining costs, the First Tier Tribunal has fallen into the same error. Upholding the appeal, Judge Elizabeth Cooke found that the offer should not have been disclosed and the decision on costs insofar as it turned on the fact of this offer could not stand.
The appellants in this case are former clients of the respondent firm of solicitors. They alleged that in the course of a contentious probate dispute concerning the will and estate of their late father, an oral agreement had been reached to cap their legal costs to those set out in their Precedent H costs budget. At first instance Master Whalan found that there had been no such agreement. This was upheld on appeal by Mr Justice Stewart. The decision provides a useful round up and examination of the law and principles related to both an appellate court’s approach to findings of fact and contractual interpretation.
This was the first appeal in which the recoverability of inquest costs in civil claims has fallen to be considered since introduction of the Jackson reforms. It followed an assessment of costs by Deputy Master Keens in the SCCO when he allowed the sum of £88,356.22 as a against an original claim of £122,000 excl VAT. The claim was for damages for breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, negligence and misfeasance in public office following the death of Ms Jones who became ill at a police station.
We reported recently on HHJ Klein’s dismissal of the appeal in this Solicitors Act dispute between Stewarts Law (“the Respondent”) and their former client, Mr Ainsworth (“the Appellant”). Two weeks prior to that decision Mr Justice Roth determined applications by the Respondent: to set aside the order granting the Appellant permission to appeal on grounds that it was out of time pursuant to CPR 52.18(1)(b); and if the appeal was allowed to proceed, an order under CPR r.52.18(1)(c) that it be conditional on payment of the full amount ordered by the costs judge.
This was an appeal by the mother in Children Act proceedings against an order that she do pay £109,394 in costs. In the course of the proceedings the mother had been given a four year prison sentence in Russia for attempting to bribe a police officer to instigate criminal charges against the father in order to further her own claim on the children. Despite her incarceration, the mother had continued to pursue an appeal against an order that the father have custody of the children, before finally conceding, leaving only the incidence of costs to be decided.
The long awaited and much anticipated judgment in these appeals has been handed down.
The appeals raised a number of specific issues arising out of the respondent’s successful challenge on an assessment of the claimant’s costs to the amount of the ATE insurance premium recoverable by the appellants.
They also raised a number of wider points relating to reasonableness and proportionality and the proper approach to the assessment of costs.
The Employment Tribunal was wrong to consider ‘without prejudice’ correspondence in its determination of costs following dismissal of a discrimination and harassment claim.
Mr Justice Henry Carr dismissed an appeal against the making of a Bullock order against three of four defendants to a noise nuisance claim finding that the judge was entitled, “and indeed obliged” to look at all the circumstances of the case including “the reasonableness of the initial decision by the Claimant to join the Fourth Defendant as a party to the action, but also the entire conduct of the proceedings.”