Legal Update
A Matter of Interpretation – Santiago v MIB
17 July 2023

A Matter of Interpretation – Santiago v MIB

Author: Colin Richmond

Interpreter Fees Recoverable in Fixed Costs Regime

In Santiago v MIB [2023] EWCA Civ 838 the Court of Appeal confirmed that interpreter fees are recoverable under the CPR 45 fixed costs regime.

The Claimant, a Brazilian national who spoke Portuguese and had “a poor grasp of English,” was injured in a road traffic accident. He issued proceedings and obtained judgment. The First Defendant driver was uninsured and MIB was required to meet the unsatisfied judgment. The case was subject to the fixed costs regime.

The Claimant sought to claim the fees of an interpreter. The fees were refused by the judge at first instance, who felt constrained by the decision in Aldred v Cham [2019] EWCA Civ 1780. The Claimant appealed. The case was leapfrogged to the Court of Appeal.

Cham was a case that dealt, strictly speaking, with Counsel’s fees in certain fixed costs cases, which were ruled to be irrecoverable as a disbursement. However, due to interpreter fees being mentioned in the judgment as a possible example of other irrecoverable fees, litigants have tended to proceed on that basis ever since.

In Santiago, however, the Court of Appeal was clear in that the comments in Aldred were obiter and no more. In ruling that interpreter fees are recoverable, Stuart-Smith LJ held:

  1. There could be no suggestion that interpreter fees were intended to be included in the recoverable fees set out at Table 6B;
  2. When issues of access to justice arise, a broader interpretation is necessary to enable the dispute to be determined in accordance with the Overriding Objective (CPR1);
  3. The Court was not bound by Cham, that case having been on different facts and having been decided without specific consideration of CPR 1.

Accordingly, the Claimant’s appeal was allowed.

A copy of the judgment is available on Bailii, view here.