Settlement of future claims

Two phone hacking claims were struck out on the ground that they had been compromised by earlier settlement agreements between the parties. Although the settlement agreements specifically referred to the claim numbers of the original claims and made no mention of future claims, the broad nature of the statements of case concerning the original claims meant that they would have included the new claims, had they been known about at the time (Brazier v News Group Newspapers Ltd).

Relief from sanctions

The Denton approach to applications for relief from sanctions applies to applications for extensions of time where no sanction is prescribed by the CPR or order. It applies with full force irrespective of the type of case or the circumstances of the party seeking relief or an extension of time. Parties should not refuse to agree reasonable extensions of time nor seek tactical advantage from a minor default. The court will penalise such behaviour with costs sanctions (R (Hysaj) v Secretary of State for the Home Department).

Limitation in contribution claims

Where a claim is settled by one party accepting a Part 36 offer, the two year limitation period runs in accordance with section 10(4) of the Civil Liability (Contribution) Act 1978 from the date of the acceptance and not from the date of a Tomlin order giving effect to the settlement or an order assessing costs (Chief Constable of Hampshire Constabulary v Southampton City Council).

Capacity and conditional fee agreements

The Court of Appeal held that the claimant's conditional fee agreement (CFA) had not been terminated by frustration when the claimant subsequently lost mental capacity and became unable to give instructions personally. The claimant could therefore recover the disputed costs from the defendant. At the time the CFA was entered into, the parties must have contemplated that the claimant might suffer from a further period of incapacity during which she would be unable to give instructions personally. In any event, the consequences of her supervening incapacity were covered by the terms of the CFA (Blankley v Central Manchester and Manchester Children's University Hospitals NHS Trust).

Settlement not subject to contract

An exchange of emails between the parties’ solicitors constituted a binding settlement without the need for a subsequent detailed settlement agreement. The email offer on behalf of the defendant was driven by an intention to settle before a further tranche of brief fees became payable and was not stated to be subject to contract, unlike their previous offer (Bieber and others v Teathers Limited (in liquidation)).