Article 6 challenge to costs regime

The Supreme Court has adjourned determination of an issue as to whether the 1999 costs regime, and in particular a claimant's right to recover any success fee and ATE premium from an unsuccessful defendant, infringes the European Convention on Human Rights (Coventry v Lawrence No 2). 

Relief from sanctions

The Court of Appeal reinterpreted their decision in Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd, setting out a new three stage test. They warned that heavy costs sanctions should be imposed on parties who behave unreasonably in refusing to agree extensions of time or unreasonably oppose applications for relief from sanctions (Denton v TH White Ltd). 

Amendments and limitation

Where a claimant applies to amend their case to raise a new claim and the defendant objects that it is time-barred, the court must decide whether the defendant has a prima facie defence of limitation. If it does, the burden is on the claimant to show that the defence is not in fact reasonably arguable (Mercer Ltd v Ballinger).

Service on defendant’s solicitors

Where the court served the claim form on the defendant rather than the defendant’s solicitors contrary to instructions and without informing the claimant’s solicitors, and communications between the parties’ solicitors had lulled the claimant’s solicitors into a false sense of security, the court exercised its discretion under CPR 6.15 to order that the steps already taken to bring the claim form to the attention of the defendant constituted good service (Power v Meloy Whittle Robinson Solicitors). 

Claimants’ Part 36 offers

Where the claimant made a successful Part 36 offer shortly after issuing the claim so that, because of the compressed procedural timetable, the relevant period expired shortly before trial, it would be unduly harsh to require the defendant to pay an additional amount under CPR 36.14(4). He could not be criticised for failing to accept the offer within the relevant period - he did not see the claimant's witness statement until the day before the period expired – and the compressed timetable meant that most costs were incurred during that period (Elsevier Ltd v Munro).