A golfer awarded almost £400,000 in damages after an accident which resulted in him losing an eye has failed in a claim for interest on his legal costs.

Background

As previously published, (MacRoberts Commercial Dispute Resolution Update November 2011) Anthony Phee lost an eye after being struck by a ball hit by another golfer (Mr Gordon) during a visit to Niddry Castle Golf Club, West Lothian, in 2007. As a result of the accident Mr Phee was awarded almost £400,000 in damages plus legal costs. Following an appeal, the Golf Club was found liable for 80% of the damages and Mr Gordon liable for the remaining 20%.  (MacRoberts Commercial Dispute Resolution Update April 2013). Further appeal proceedings to the Supreme Court were later abandoned.

Further Action

Following the award of damages, Mr Phee applied to the court for interest on the legal costs incurred by him. He sought interest on the legal costs incurred in the original action and the appeal at a rate of 8% (the judicial rate of interest).  Mr Phee sought this interest from the earliest date on which he could have possibly have applied for costs.  This date was earlier than the date on which he, as a matter of fact, was actually awarded costs. 

Decision

The court refused the application for interest on legal costs prior to the date of the order for payment of those costs.

The court stated that in circumstances such as these, where damages and costs have been awarded to one party, those responsible for meeting the claim are entitled to have the amount that they owe fixed by judicial process.  That party cannot be charged interest for the time during which this matter was being considered.

It is worth noting that proposals for the reform of the law on payment of interest were put forward recently by the Scottish Law Commission. A consultative bill followed, however the Scottish Government did not take the proposals further.

Comment

The re-emergence of this matter acts as a reminder to sporting organisations of the need to mitigate the risk of accidents. Those providing such facilities, and those who use them, should bear in mind the importance of a comprehensive insurance policy.

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