The Court of Appeal’s judgment, delivered by Lord Justice Males, in Parham Khandanpour v. Colin Chambers EWCA Civ 570 contains some interesting comments about the Court’s discretion when granting relief from sanctions, which will be reassuring to many litigants concerned about minor breaches.
The Appellant, a landlord, was the subject of a Default Costs Certificate. The County Court made an order setting aside the Default Costs Certificate provided that the Appellant paid £10,000.00 by 4 pm on 15th June 2017. The Appellant arranged for £4,000.00 to be paid by the deadline, but the remaining £6,000 was not paid until 8:53am the next morning. Relief from sanctions was refused in the lower Court (amongst arguments about whether or not the payment had been made on time) and the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
Whilst the body of Lord Justice Males’ judgment focuses on arguments surrounding how the respondent was entitled to apportion the two payments, he held that when considering relief from sanctions a “sense of perspective was necessary”, as the delay “made no practical difference” to the parties. Perhaps more surprisingly, whilst it was not necessary for the Court to consider the 3rd stage of the Denton test (the breach being deemed neither serious nor significant), Lord Justice Males indicated that, though the application had not been made as promptly as it could have been and the Appellant’s conduct was open to the criticism that he had sought to obstruct enforcement, he would still have granted relief because 1) the Respondent had the benefit of charging orders against 3 of the Appellant’s properties and 2) the amount of the Default Costs Certificate (in the sum of £27,824.40) appeared high in comparison to the value of the claim (£6,874.00) and it would have been disproportionate to deny the Appellant the chance to challenge it.