Costs News

03 December 2015
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Judge backs joint fast-track issue of related small claims

Solicitors acting on three passenger claims were right to issue them together on the fast-track, even though two of them fell within the small claims track, and fast-track costs applied to them all, a district judge has ruled.

District Judge Severn in Leicester County Court said that, because the three claimants – a mother and two children – were passengers in the same vehicle and were represented by the same solicitors, “I have little doubt the claimants would have been criticised for issuing three separate sets of proceedings with three separate court fees had they chosen to proceed in that manner”.

In Dilip and another v Paynes Dairies Ltd, liability was not admitted and the claims left the portal. Proceedings were issued for all three claimants and, in response, the defendant put the claimants to strict proof that they were passengers in the vehicle. The parties filed directions questionnaires and then the claims were allocated to the fast-track. The case then settled, with the children receiving £550 each.

The provisional assessment wound up before DJ Severn and the defendant contended that the small claims costs regime should apply to the children’s claims. He ruled: “Having regard to all the circumstances, I am satisfied that the claimants’ costs were proportionately and reasonably incurred or proportionate and reasonable in amount as set out in my provisional assessment.

“In reaching this conclusion, I have had regard to the factors set out in paragraph 44.4(3) of the CPR. I have considered the submissions made by both parties and do not consider in the particular circumstances of the case that these claims would ordinarily have been allocated to the small claims track because [they] were properly and correctly issued alongside the claim of the mother.”

Costs Lawyer Peter Bland, an associate at Scott Rees & Co whose case it was, said: “This case gives sound guidance to solicitors acting for multiple claimants in straightforward road traffic accidents, some of whom may find that their level of damages would normally result in allocation to the small claims track if the claims were issued separately.

“The defendant in this matter sought to argue that such claimants should have their costs assessed on the basis of the fixed costs in CPR 45.2, despite the claims having been allocated to the fast-track by virtue of the related claims exceeding the small claims threshold. The court found, in the relatively common circumstances of this case, that it was entirely reasonable to issue all related cases together and that a standard basis costs order was appropriate given the fast track allocation of the claim.”

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