Court considers whether settlement meeting was without prejudice save as to costs

One of the issues in this case was the status of a settlement meeting between the parties before they reached an agreement a year later, and whether a judge who was considering costs issues was entitled to take into account what was said at that meeting.

The parties had agreed that the meeting was without prejudice, but they had not discussed whether it was without prejudice save as to costs ("WPSATC"). Reference was made to the Court of Appeal decision of Gresham Pension Trustees v Cammack [2016], in which it was said that the parties had to agree that a meeting was WPSATC if they didn't want the general rule precluding the admission of without prejudice communications to apply. The judge in this case said that he was not required to decide whether the Court of Appeal meant that WPSATC status can only ever be achieved by an express statement. That was because he found that there was nothing in the surrounding circumstances which could give rise to an inference in this case that the meeting was intended by both parties to be WPSATC, despite nothing express being said to that effect.

Accordingly, he did not read the evidence as to what happened at the meeting.