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Articles | Tue 15th Nov, 2016
William Dean summarises a judgment giving “authoritative guidance” on “a short but important point”.
The question and the answer
On 11th November 2016 the Court of Appeal gave judgment on “whether a disposal hearing listed for the quantification of damages payable after judgment … is, or is not, a trial” for the purposes of the fast track fixed costs provisions.
The answer is yes; or, in the words of Briggs LJ: “listing a case for a disposal hearing following judgment, pursuant to Part 26PD12, is listing for trial, for the purposes of triggering column 3 in Table 6D part B where a case which originated in the EL/PL Protocol settles after listing” (paragraph 12).
The judgment is available here.
The question, in more detail
The question is of importance because of the formulation of the fixed costs tables in Section IIIA of Part 45. Part B of each of Tables 6B (for RTA claims) and 6C and 6D (for EL/PL claims respectively) provide for different levels of base costs depending on the stage a claim has reached at the point of settlement. What happens in a case which, after issue, has not been allocated but has been listed for disposal – and then settles? Does it fall within column 1 of part B (“prior to allocation”) or column 3 (“[o]n or after the date of listing but prior to the date of trial”)?
The answer, in more detail
In Briggs LJ’s judgment, with which Arden and Underhill LJJ agreed, it falls within column 3.
His Lordship gave five main reasons for his conclusion.
The effect of the answer
Briggs LJ noted that the question was “a short but important point” and that although the “difference is, in absolute terms, a modest one… the cumulative effect of its application to numerous cases is substantial” (paragraph 1).
This is now authoritative guidance from the Court of Appeal on the point, which was previously the subject of conflicting first instance decisions. Although the case is strictly authority only for PL claims (because Table 6D was engaged), the language used in the rules in respect of RTA and EL claims is identical.