Does the existence of a genuine Part 36 offer prevent the Court from dealing with the costs of a liability trial prior to quantum being determined even when the “losing” party’s conduct has been egregious?
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.
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.
In this rare costs decision following a breach of confidence claim from their ex-employers, a multinational corporation, the defendants successfully persuaded HHJ Birss that despite his finding that the claimant had achieved a more advantageous outcome than their own Part 36 offer under CPR 36.17(1)(b), it would be unjust pursuant to CPR 36.17(4) to order that the usual costs consequences should apply.
Master McCloud exercised her discretion and declined 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.