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.
Disagreeing with Judge Robert Owen QC in Potter v Sally Montague (Nottingham CC), HHJ Nicol found that a Part 36 Offer made in detailed assessment proceedings and expressed to be exclusive of interest was a valid Part 36 Offer.
This was another in a line of cases which confirms that a Part 36 Offer cannot contain any provision as to costs. Disagreeing with Hildyard J in Proctor & Gamble Co v Svenska Celluslosa HHJ Paul Matthewsheld that he was bound by the Court of Appeal decisions in Mitchell v James and French v Groupama, neither of which had been cited to Hildyard J, that no term as to costs should be included in a Part 36 offer, even if to the benefit of the offeror.
This was a decision of Deputy Master Friston (author of Friston on Costs) in the Senior Courts Costs Office. Having determined that the Claimant had made and beaten a valid Part 36 Offer solely in relation to hourly rates the Master concluded that it would be unjust to award them an additional 10% uplift on the assessed profit costs.
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.
The Court of Appeal has dismissed a challenge to the validity of a Part 36 Offer on grounds that i) it was made in respect of both a claim and a proposed counterclaim which had yet to be pleaded; and it ii) contained provision for interest to accrue at a particular rate after the expiry of the “Relevant Period”
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.