Swings and Roundabouts is a Funfair for Claimants

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Posted on: November 11th, 2016 by Kerry Morton

Bird v Acorn Group Limited

Lawyers have frequently come unstuck where a matter is listed for a Disposal hearing but has not been allocated to a track and subsequently settles before the Disposal hearing, or at the hearing itself. Today the Court of Appeal has handed down judgment confirming that where a disposal hearing takes place, the highest level of pre-trial fixed costs are payable. CPR 45.29C provides different Tables identifying the level of fixed costs that become payable when a matter has exited the Portal regime. In particular, Table 6B Part B lists the 3 different stages whereby settlement can be reached:

On or after the date of issue, but prior to the date of allocation under Part 26 Fixed costs

The total of—
(a) £1,160; and
(b) 20% of the damages

On or after the date of allocation under Part 26, but prior to the date of listing.

The total of—
(a) £1,880; and
(b) 20% of the damages

On or after the date of listing but prior the date of trial

The total of—
(a) £2,655; and
(b) 20% of the damages

Numerous arguments have arisen over the appropriate level of fixed costs that apply in those circumstances, leaving lawyers perplexed. In this case, the Defendant argued the case had not gone through the various stages listed in Table 6B, thereby only attracting the first stage of fixed costs incurred pre-allocation. However the Claimant contended that settlement took place at the disposal hearing and should be concluded as equal to “at trial”. It would therefore follow that the fixed costs applicable were those set out in Stage 3 of Table 6B.

Upon hearing the evidence, the Court found in favour of the Claimant, ensuring Claimants will attract costs equal to a matter that settled at trial where settlement takes place at a disposal hearing. This is a rare piece of good news for the Claimant solicitors in the personal injury market. We await to see if this decision is subject to an appeal and taken to Supreme Court.

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