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.
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.
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.