Court of Appeal hands down Judgment in Bird v. Acorn Group          

The question that the Court of Appeal had to resolve in Bird v. Acorn Group [2016] EWCA Civ 1096 was whether the definition of “trial”, for the purposes of the fixed costs tables 6B, 6C and 6D of CPR 45, extends to a disposal hearing listed to quantify damages after judgment has been entered for a claim started under either the RTA or EL/PL Protocols.  

The Court of Appeal were satisfied that a disposal hearing was a final contested hearing, falling within the definition of a trial at CPR45.29E(4)(c), and that fact that the second column in the respective tables appears to have been jumped over does not prevent the third column from being triggered.

 

Lord Justice Jackson to lead fixed costs review

The review follows the Government’s commitment, in the “Transforming our Justice System” consultation paper, to extend the fixed costs regime.  The review formally starts in January 2017 and will complete at the end of July 2017. Lord Justice Jackson, who has previously argued for the fixed costs regime to be extended to civil claims with a value of up to £250,000, has invited written evidence or submissions to assist the review to be sent to fixed.costs@judiciary.gsi.gov.uk by 16 January 2017.

 

New requirement for bundles in High Court bankruptcy hearings

On 1 November 2016, the Electronic Working Pilot Scheme, as set out in Practice Direction 51O, was extended to apply to Bankruptcy Petitions in multiple lists being heard in the Rolls Building of the Royal Courts of Justice (i.e. Bankruptcy Petitions issued in the High Court as opposed to the County Court at Central London). Petitioning Creditors are now required to lodge a bundle with the Court three working days before the Petition is heard.  A note from Chief Registrar Baister regarding the change of procedure can be found here.

 

Small claims limit for personal injury claims to rise

The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that it intends to press ahead with plans to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims from £1,000.00 to £5,000.00, taking the view that “low value RTA related claims are not so complex that claimants routinely require legal representation to pursue them”. The Ministry of Justice’s consultation, launched on 17 November 2016 also suggests scrapping claims for minor whiplash injuries, or limiting them to a maximum payout of £425.00. Other proposed measures include banning offers to settle claims without medical evidence.

 

Fixed costs do not apply to RTA matters allocated to the multi-track

The Court of Appeal has given judgment in Qader & Others v. Esure [2016] EWCA Civ 1109 and overturned His Honour Judge Grant’s decision that the fixed costs set out in CPR 45.29 for matters started under the RTA Protocol should continue to apply to matters which are subsequently allocated to the multi-track. Lord Justice Briggs reviewed the history of the fixed costs regime in detail and concluded that such a rigorous approach to fixed costs was not what the Civil Procedure Rules Committee had intended.  Expressing the view that it was clearly envisioned that these cases would proceed on the fast track, Lord Justice Briggs concluded that the fixed costs rules were automatically dis-applied upon allocation to the multi-track.