Siddiqui v University of Oxford Chancellor, Masters and Scholars [2018] EWHC 536 (QB)

The claimant brought a claim against the defendant alleging that poor teaching cost him a high-flying legal career. The claim included a claim for damages for personal injuries but there were also claims in contract and in tort for his financial losses.

The claimant was unsuccessful and the defendant sought to enforce the order for costs. The defendant argued that qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) did not apply to a large part of the claim because it was not in respect of personal injury. It was submitted that CPR, r. 44.16(2)(b) applied, which allowed orders for costs to be fully enforceable against a claimant with the permission of the court.

Held

It was held that there is no authority that CPR, r. 44.16(2)(b) can only apply if the personal injury claim and non-personal injury claim are divisible.

The High Court specifically concluded that there is no reason in principle why there should be this requirement and the judge can exercise their discretion in respect of costs, which will be in the claimant’s favour, if the two claims are inextricably linked or otherwise very closely related.

The issue of the alleged financial losses, poor degree and claimant’s alleged inability to obtain a place at his chosen law schools were sufficiently separate to the personal injury claim. A broad brush approach was applied when assessing the percentage of the claim that was not in respect of personal injury for which the claimant was liable to pay the defendant’s costs.

The claimant was ordered to pay 25 per cent of the defendant’s costs (totalling approximately £75,000) to be subject to detailed assessment if not agreed.

What this means for you

In this case, the High Court considered whether an overlap between the evidential basis for a personal injury claim and a non-personal injury claim precluded the operation of CPR, r. 44.16(2)(b). Even though the court accepted that substantially the same evidence was advanced in support of the personal injury claim, it made clear that this did not detract from the proposition that a free-standing claim for economic loss unrelated to personal injury had also been brought at the same time against the defendant.

The High Court considered the decision in Jeffreys v Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2017] EWHC 1505 (QB), where it was stated that the key question was whether the claims advanced were for different forms of loss, i.e. where one was for personal injury but the other not but they were brought at the same time under one action. Also, where there is a single non-PI element that is inextricably linked to the PI claim, the exception to QOCS under CPR, r. 44.16(2)(b) will not apply.