The claimant applied under CPR r17.4 to amend its claim form after the limitation period had expired. The court can allow such an amendment only if the new claim arises out of the same facts as the claim for which a remedy has already been claimed. Here, the amendment was intended to allow the claimant to increase the value stated on the claim form from almost £70,000 to £162,000.
For limitation purposes, a claim is "brought" when a claim form is delivered to the court office accompanied by a request to issue and the appropriate fee. In Lewis v Ward Hadaway(see Weekly Update 2/16), the correct court fee had been paid but it was held that there had been an abuse of process because the claimants' solicitors had deliberately mis-stated/under-stated the value of the claims in order to pay lower court fees for the issue of a claim form. Summary judgment was granted on the basis that the claims had not been "brought" in time.
The issue in this case was whether a similar situation of paying the incorrect court fee because the original amount claimed was too low (albeit, here there was no abuse of process), should lead the court to refuse to exercise its discretion under CPR r17.4. The judge held that that Lewis (and certain other cases) had been concerned only with whether a claim had been brought within the limitation period and did not "justify a root and branch revision of the approach to be adopted to an application to amend".
Accordingly, in the absence of any prejudice to the defendant if the amendment is allowed (and the existence of significant potential prejudice to the claimant if it is disallowed), the amendment should be allowed. The situation might be different, though, if the underpayment of fees amounted to an abuse of process of the court (like the situation inLewis).