Lord Justice Jackson has recently handed down the Court of Appeal’s unanimous judgment in the case of Sean Phillips v. Carol Willis [2016] Civ 401. The appeal concerned the decision, of a District Judge, to transfer a matter in the “RTA process” from a Part 8 claim to a Part 7 claim in accordance with paragraph 7.2(2) of Practice Direction 8B.

 

The claim had been listed for a Stage 3 hearing, after passing through the Pre-Action Protocol for low value RTA claims. At the time of the hearing, the only issue in contention between the parties was a hire car charge of £2,877.56, although, upon the evidence filed in advance of the hearing, the Defendant could only dispute £462.00 of the amount claimed. Although both the Claimant and Defendant’s representatives were prepared to argue their client’s cases at the hearing, District Judge Howard did not think the matter was suitable for disposal under the RTA process; accordingly, the District Judge directed that the matter proceed as a small claim under Part 7.    

 

Jackson LJ allowed the appeal, noting that the District Judge’s decision that further evidence was required to resolve the claim was “irrational” and it therefore followed that the District Judge did not have the power to order, under paragraph 7.2(2) of Practice Direction 8B, that the claim should proceed under Part 7. Notably, Jackson LJ was greatly concerned at the costs that the parties would have to incur to comply with the District Judge’s directions, particularly as the successful party would recover virtually no costs as a result of the matter proceeding on the Small Claims Track. Jackson LJ stressed that the personal injury element of a claim being resolved did not require, and was not specified as a reason for, a claim to exit the RTA process.