Opinion
8 December 2021

Crompton v Meadowcroft [2021] EW Misc 20

Written by Bharat Jangra

Pupil barrister Bharat Jangra examines the decision of Deputy District Judge Ayers in the case of Crompton v Meadowcroft [2021] EW Misc 20 regarding the exceptionality test under CPR 45.29J and the fixed costs regime.

Factual Background

This claim arose following an RTA on 7 January 2017. The claim was entered into the portal on 9 January 2017, and exited 15 days later. Liability was admitted on 8 March 2017.

Proceedings were issued in early 2020, in July 2020 the Claimants agreed to the Defendant’s settlement offer. However, whilst settlement negotiations were ongoing the court had sent out directions questionnaires, which were completed and filed with the court. On 10 September 2020, the court allocated this matter to the multi-track.

The issue before the Court was whether the Claimant’s solicitors were limited to the fixed costs regime or whether they would be able to obtain their costs on the standard basis.

The Parties’ Submissions

CPR45.29B provides the following:

“Subject to rules 45.29F, 45.29G, 45.29H and 45.29J, and for as long as the case is not allocated to the multi-track, if, in a claim started under the RTA Protocol, the Claim Notification Form is submitted on or after 31st July 2013, the only costs allowed are—

(a) the fixed costs in rule 45.29C;

(b) disbursements in accordance with rule 45.29I.”

The phrase “and for as long as the case is not allocated to the multi-track” being added following the decision in Qader v Esure Services Limited [2016] EWCA Civ 1109.

The Defendant’s contention was that as this case had been issued in the portal and had settled prior to allocation to the multi-track, the fixed costs regime should therefore apply. Here it may have been “…the case that the claimant’s representatives carried out an amount of work that was greater than will be properly reimbursed under the fixed costs regime, but they have to take that on the chin because that is the nature of the scheme…” (para. 9)

However, the Claimant contended that the costs in this case should not be restricted to the fixed costs regime on the basis that the case was ‘exceptional’ further to CPR45.29J, which states:

“(1) If it considers that there are exceptional circumstances making it appropriate to do so, the court will consider a claim for an amount of costs (excluding disbursements) which is greater than the fixed recoverable costs referred to in rules 45.29B to 45.29H.

(2) If the court considers such a claim to be appropriate, it may—

(a) summarily assess the costs; or

(b) make an order for the costs to be subject to detailed assessment….”

The Claimant submitted that this was not a straightforward case and met the exceptional circumstances, a high bar as per Ferri v Gill [2019] EWHC 952 (QB), due to the following:

  • The number of experts involved;
  • Extensive medical disclosure;
  • The Claimant’s solicitors had to consider that the Claimant may suffer disablement as a result of her injuries;
  • Reference had to be made to the Ogden tables to calculate future losses; and
  • The agreed settlement figure was outside the fast-track limit.

Decision

In these circumstances, the Court did consider that the exceptionality bar had been met and that the work required by those representing the claimant was significantly greater than might have been anticipated … I do deem it appropriate to allow the claimant to depart from the fixed costs regime so as to be properly reimbursed in respect of the work done and the costs incurred on their client’s behalf.” (para. 13)

Author

Bharat Jangra is a pupil barrister currently undertaking a pupillage with Parklane Plowden Chambers. 

Parklane Plowden Chambers offer specialist pupillages based within either our Civil & Employment teams, our Family Team or our Commercial and Chancery teams. We also have pupillages based in Leeds or Newcastle, with the opportunity to spend time in each of our bases.

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