Bridge sought damages from Pynford arising out of Pynford’s negligent installation of a piled foundation, which was to serve as the base for Bridge’s press at its new premises. As part of its claim, Bridge sought £7,680 in respect of management time incurred in dealing with the problems caused by Pynford. Bridge calculated the claim for wasted management time by assessing the time which had been spent on various matters retrospectively based on various documents which recorded what had happened.
The court upheld Bridge’s claim for wasted management time2. The court considered that the cost of wasted staff time was recoverable, provided that the wasted time was directly attributable to the tort. In other words, Bridge had to show some significant disruption to the business, namely that staff had been significantly diverted from their usual activities. The court considered that in the absence of records, Bridge’s retrospective assessment of the amount of wasted time through a reconstruction from memory was acceptable. However, such an assessment could only be an approximation of the hours spent and could not be a completely reliable estimate of the actual time which would have been recorded contemporaneously. The court therefore applied a discount to reflect this inherent uncertainty.
This decision shows the court’s growing sympathy for claimants seeking to recover damages for wasted management time, which was traditionally not considered to be a recoverable head of loss.
Claimants who seek to recover losses of this nature in future are likely to be advised to keep contemporaneous time-keeping records as evidence of any wasted mangement time, as they can expect defendants to subject such claims and the supporting evidence to close scrutiny.