“I accept that a failure to comply with the rules of service in CPR Part 6 should not be taken lightly … No reason has been put forward by the claimant as to why the rules were not followed. On the other hand, it is clear that the defendants’ solicitors received the Part 36 offer on 15 December 2020. Mr Seitler does not contend otherwise. No complaint was made about the method of service of the Part 36 offer until shortly before the hearing on 3 November. No suggestion has been made that there is any prejudice to the third defendant in the Part 36 offer having been sent by email rather than having been served in some other way, for example by post. In these circumstances, it would in my view be … “a triumph of form over substance” if the court were to make an order invalidating the Part 36 offer…”
The consequences of Part 36 can be punishing, but it is a separate question whether they are unjust. The justice of Part 36 is that decisions about litigation should be economically utilitarian: it actively discourages litigation on ‘points of principle’ by making litigation not fought on a commercial basis a high stakes activity.
In the course of this personal injury claim the Claimant had made two Part 36 Offers, to essentially the same effect, namely that he would accept 90% of his claim for damages and interest to be assessed, on the basis that liability was admitted. The Claimant had alleged that he had sustained two distinct injuries as a result of the Defendant’s negligence in the form of whiplash and injury to his lower back. He had claimed damages of approximately £10,000.
CPR 36.17(4) applies where a Claimant beats its own Part 36 Offer in substantive proceedings bringing with it various rewards including a 10% uplift, enhanced interest and indemnity costs. The question to be addressed in this case was whether it applies equally to the costs of detailed assessment i.e. can you make a valid Part 36 Offer in respect of the costs of the detailed assessment proceedings and reap those same rewards if it is beaten? In other words, do the the costs of the detailed assessment proceedings, for the purposes of CPR 36.17(4), fall within “any issue that arises in the claim”?
This Court of Appeal decision concerned the circumstances in which the award to a Claimant who beats its own Part 36 Offer of some or all of the specified relief under CPR 36.17 may be considered to be unjust.
In this short judgment Mr Justice Cavanagh declined to make an issue-based costs order despite the claimant having been unsuccessful in two parts of his claim on the basis that the evidence which he had obtained and presented in support of these had not been wasted.
Having beaten his own offer at trial the Claimant was awarded indemnity costs under CPR 36.17(4)(b) from 21 days after the date on which it was made.
The Claimant also claimed indemnity costs on a broader basis and for a longer period by reason of the Defendant’s failure to engage in settlement discussions. or contemplate any form of ADR.
There have been a number of cases recently dealing with the consequences under CPR 36.17(4) of a claimant beating its own offer. In this case the claimant beat its offer of £250,000 by over £200,000, being awarded approximately £458,500 at trial. The defendant argued that notwithstanding this fact, it would be unjust to visit the consequences set out in CPR 36.17 upon them.
Mr Justice O’Farrell rounded up the authorities on CPR 36.17 and found that a Claimant who had beaten its own Part 36 Offer of £875,000 by less than £5,000 was nonetheless entitled to the benefits conferred by the rule, including enhanced interest on damages and costs, indemnity costs from 21 days after the date of the offer and an additional amount of £65,123.77.
This was an appeal against the decision of Master McCloud not to award the claimant a 10% ‘additional amount’ under CPR 36.17(4) on grounds that it would be disproportionate and unjust to do so where the claimant had beaten its own offer by just £7,000 on a bill assessed at £431,813.05.