J B Ilangaratne v British Medical Association [2007] EWHC 920 (Ch) considers an appeal against the decision of a costs judge that a cost order did not breach the indemnity principle.

The apellant was an unsuccessful claimant in a negligence action against the BMA and was ordered to pay their costs. The BMA had defended the claim with the assistance of insurers who had then instructed solicitors.

The appellant argued that there was no retainer between insurers and solicitors which was a breach of the indemnity principle. The court was advised that there was a standing arrangement between insurers and solicitors as to costs which was evidenced by a letter between them.

The court held that the letter was not itself a written contract or retainer. It was, however, evidence of a standing arrangement between the insurer and solicitor that any instructions to the solicitors on behalf of their insured would give rise to a retainer between the customer on terms already advised and agreed.

In Ryan Brain v Yorkshire Rider Ltd [26/03/07] - Leeds County Court - the claimant appealed against the decision that the defendant company was not liable for the full cost of a hire car following a road traffic accident (RTA).

The claimant’s sports car was damaged in a RTA. The defendant’s insurance company offered him a hire vehicle. However, at the same time the claimant was offered (and accepted) a sports vehicle under a Helphire Agreement. At first instance the trial judge held that the claimant had failed to mitigate his loss by hiring an equivalent car instead of a cheaper vehicle. On appeal this decision was reversed. The starting point was to establish the need to hire an equivalent vehicle. Once this was established (as it was in the present case) then ordinarily the motorist would be able to hire a car equivalent of his own. There was no principle which required a claimant to put up with a car that was or a different and less expensive type.

The Smoke-Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 came into force on 1 July 2007 banning smoking in enclosed public spaces. Insurance companies have warned that the ban could in fact be responsible for an increase in the risk of fires. It is speculated that the ban could cause a new risk of smokers gathering outside business premises or even as a result of “secret cigarettes” in the premises.