BPL for claimants, DWF and Beale & Co for defendants

Prior caselaw has established that a claim is "brought" for limitation purposes (and so time stops running) when the claim form is delivered to the court office, accompanied by a request to issue and the appropriate fee. The issue in this case was what exactly is meant by "the appropriate fee".

Here, there was a dispute about the value of the money claim which the claimant had, and also intended to advance, and therefore the amount of the appropriate fee. The court did not request a different fee and issued the claim form, but it subsequently transpired that the correct fee had not been paid (but not because of any "abusive conduct" by the claimant – as had been the case in Lewis v Ward Hadaway, where the claimants' solicitors had deliberately under-stated the value of claims in order to pay lower court fees for the issue of a claim form).

The judge held that: "assuming that the Claimant's behaviour is not abusive, the fact that the Claimant hopes or intends to bring a claim which cannot be either articulated or quantified at the time of the issuing of proceedings should not require payment of the fee that would have been payable if it had been articulated or quantified. It is common experience that a Claimant will issue a claim form when he is able to articulate and quantify one claim or one aspect of a claim but not others, even though he hopes and intends to bring them when he can. In such a case it is, in my judgment, both conventional and proper for the Claimant to protect himself by including general words which, he hopes, will be sufficient to be a vehicle for the further claims or quantification if they can subsequently be pleaded. If and when the further claims or quantification can be pleaded, further fees may become properly payable".

Thus it was sufficient that the claimant here had paid the correct fee for the claim which had been articulated in the claim form, even if the claimant intended to later claim further amounts, and so the claim had been properly "brought" for limitation purposes. Of course, the risk for the claimant is that if the further claim is not identified with sufficient clarity in proceedings when initially issued, a later amendment may involve a new claim after the end of the limitation period (and so the court may refuse permission to amend the claim).