Collins v (1) Secretary of State for Business Innovation & Skills (2) Stena Lane Irish Sea Ferries ltd (2014) EWCA Civ 717

The Claimant had been a dock worker from 1947 to 1967 unloading asbestos. In 2002 he was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Radiotherapy however, was successful. The Claimant was examined numerous times by his doctors between 2002 and 2008. He did not instruct solicitors until 2009 and proceedings were not issued until 2012. The Judge found the Claimant had actual knowledge of the possible link on 2009 but that he had constructive knowledge under s14(3) in mid 2003. It had been reasonable for the Claimant to make enquiries as to the cause of his cancer by mid 2003 and it was inconceivable that, if asked, the Claimant would not have mentioned his asbestos exposure. It was found therefore, that limitation expired in mid 2006. The Judge found that it was not equitable to dis-apply this when applying the criteria in s33 and took into account the prejudice to the Defendant.

The Claimant appealed. It was held that by applying the objective test under s14(3) the Judge was right that the reasonable person would have asked about the cause of his cancer by mid 2003. The Claimants medical records showed that in 2002 he was asked about his lifestyle and former employment. Those questions were asked for a purpose and any reasonable person would have been prompted to inquire what light that shed on the possible causes of his cancer. The Judge was right to find the Claimant had constructive knowledge in mid 2003 and the District Judge's decision not to exercise his discretion under s33 was upheld. In the judgment Jackson LJ said that there was a balance between the needs of the Claimants who "having suffered latent injuries, seek compensation late in the day" and tortfeasors who "despite their wrongdoings ultimately need closure".

Ahktar v Boland [2014] EWCA Civ 872

A subrogated claim had been issued by credit hire company against the motor insurers. In the claim form, the claim was valued more than £5,000.00, but less than £10,000.00, plus interest and costs.

The main head of claim was for hire in the sum £6,393.00.

Liability was admitted and within the Defence a sum of £2,496 for the hire was admitted. The balance of £3,867 was disputed.

The matter proceeded to the allocation questionnaire stage. The Defendant’s allocation questionnaire stated that the matter would be suitable to the small claims track as the balance disputed was £3,867.00 and the issues were not complex.

The claim was allocated to the small claims track. The Claimant applied to change the allocation which was refused. As a result, the Claimant appealed.

The County Court Judge dismissed the appeal. The Claimant appealed again on the basis that the £2,496.00 in the Defence had been an offer and not an admission.

Consideration was given to CPR14 (admission), CPR18 (question to clarify) and R7 of CPR PD26a. It was found that where an allegation is admitted in the proceedings by one party in unqualified terms, the other could not seek to adduce evidence or raise arguments that that admission was not binding on him.

The Defendant had not sought to withdraw the sum stated within the Defence and did not do so. CPR14.1(5) applied.

The DJ had interpreted the Defence included a unqualified admission that the Claimant had been entitled to the sum of £2,946.00 and entered Judgment in that sum. The Claimant had not applied to set aside Judgment and the Defendant accepted that.

The balance of the Claimant’s claim was £3,867.00 which was less than £5,000.00 and therefore fell into the small claims track.

Appeal dismissed.

Xhosa Office Rentals Ltd v Multi High Tech PCB Ltd (2014) EWHC 1268 (QB)

The Defendant applied for an Order to add the Respondent for cost purposes only. The Respondent was the beneficial owner and main director of the Claimant company. The Defendants contended the proceedings had been brought for the personal benefit of the Respondent. All evidence was provided by and derived from the Respondent. The Claimant failed to comply with a security for costs Order and the proceedings were struck out.

The Application was granted. It was stated this power should be used sparingly and only exceptionally exercised. The case turned on its own facts and it was difficult to see why the Defendant should be left out of pocket to such a considerable expense (£308,000.00) where an identifiable person was obviously the moving spirit behind the litigation. The Respondent had been the Claimant in all but name and was personally responsible for the way in which the proceedings had been conducted.

Hallam Estates Ltd and others v Teresa Baker (2014) EWCA Civ 661

Lord Justice Jackson provided confirmation that Applications for extensions made before the expiry of the time limit are not Applications for relief from sanctions, and the Mitchell guidelines do not apply.

In this case the Claimant applied for an extension of time following the Defendant’s refusal to grant one.  The Application was made on the day the deadline expired, but was not stamped by the Court until the next day.

Jackson LJ held that the Application was made in time.  An in time Application should be considered in accordance with the overriding objective.  It was not part of his recommendations that parties should refrain from agreeing time extensions in such circumstances, or that the Court should refuse to Order them.