RXDX v Northampton Borough Council (2015)

Although this decision was considered under the Part 36 in force prior to 6 April 2015, the provisions under consideration (old Rule 36.14(3) which are the current CPR 36.17(4)) have not changed. The authority in this judgment should apply in considering CPR 36.17(4) in similar situations in future.

The Claimant had made a Part 36 offer to settle which was not accepted and the Claimant went on beat the Part 36 offer at trial. The judge ordered indemnity costs to run throughout plus interest from the date that the offer expired. He made no order in relation to additional costs as to the then CPR Part 36.14 (3( (a) – (d) on the basis that in the circumstances, where nothing had been known to either side as to the value of the claim, it would be unjust to apply those provisions.

The Claimant submitted that the judge did not have the power to make no order as to r.36.14(3)(a) and (d) because the rule was a complete code. The defendant argued that it was open to the judge to consider each sub-paragraph separately and assess if its application would be unjust in the circumstances.

HELD:

Part 36 was a self-contained code which was to be read and understood according to its terms without importing rules derived from the general law, save where that was clearly intended.

The then Rule 36.14 was triggered in situations where the Claimant had achieved a more advantageous result than would have been the case had the Part 36 offer been accepted.

Reading the plain language of the rule the court preferred the defendant's construction. It was open to the court to consider each sub-paragraph of r.36.14(3) separately so as to assess if its application would be unjust in the circumstances of each particular case.