Is this the most ridiculous court decision ever?

A client was embroiled in a long battle with a customer over the usual type of matter –was the car faulty or not? The court directed that by a certain date each party must exchange Witness Statements with each other and send them to the court, in advance of a hearing. Additionally, the parties were ordered to appoint an independent expert witness between them and for him (or her) to submit that report.

Our client decided that rather than waste lots of time and energy on doing these matters, they simply decided to offer the Claimant the exact amount requested on the Particulars of Claim. They wrote to the Claimant many weeks before the hearing offering the full amount. Only one condition applied – the Claimant was to discontinue proceedings upon agreeing to accept every penny that was being claimed for.

Silence. Absolutely nothing from the Claimant. So our client wrote to the court stating what had happened and asking that, if they still had to attend the hearing, the Claimant be ordered to pay their costs for doing so. Bear in mind that they would not have had to attend if the Claimant had accepted the amount being asked for many weeks previous.

Somewhat bizarrely, the Claimant submitted a lengthy Witness Statement regardless and even hired her own expert to do a report at the cost of £500.  The upshot of this being that the Claimant went to court asking for more than the amount sought in her Particulars of Claim. The Judge immediately dismissed such an idea and refused to even look at her expert’s report.

HOWEVER, he ordered that our client nevertheless pay for the full cost of that report! 

Client reminded the court that had they had long offered the full amount claimed for, which was the amount now awarded by the court - and that had the full value of the Claim been accepted when offered then no expense would have been incurred for the subsequent and wholly unnecessary expert report.

The Judge rejected that argument.  Why?  It seems he did so because of the failure of our client to file a Witness Statement!  The Judge reminded our client - as we remind you here – “The court does not give directions for the fun of it – we expect compliance”. This follows on from an unrelated hearing where the Judge said “Court Directions are not a wish-list from which you can pick and choose the ones you want to meet”.

And whilst we understand that Judges “expect compliance” surely it is not beyond expectation for the parties to go to court and “expect common-sense?"



 

Authors: Jason Williams

Published: 19 Jan 2016

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