UK & Europe
Insurance & Reinsurance
A recent decision held that Court may apply the 'injustice' test separately for each part of CPR 36.17(4).
This decision was subject to an appeal before the High Court in June 2019 - our analysis of that appeal can be found here.
The Claimant presented a Bill of Costs in the sum of £615,751.51.
On 21 June 2018, the Claimant made a Part 36 offer in the sum of £425,000 inclusive of interest. The offer expired on 13 July 2018, and detailed assessment started on 16 July 2018. At assessment, Master McCloud assessed the Claimant's bill of costs at £421,089.16 plus interest of £10,723.89 (a total of £431,813.05).
During the assessment, the Claimant asked for the penalties set out in CPR 36.17(4) (a), (b) and (c) to apply, but not for the additional 10% as prescribed in subsection (d).
A draft order was agreed between the parties, providing for the consequences of paragraphs (a), (b) and (c) but not (d). Following the lodging of the order but before it was sealed, the Claimant invited Master McCloud to order the additional 10%.
The Defendant argued that it would be 'unjust' for the consequences of paragraph (d) to apply as the Claimant had only beaten its offer by a small margin of £7,000. Allowing the 10% on the bill provided would provide the Claimant an additional sum in excess of £40,000.
The Defendant submitted that the Court, when applying Rule 36.17(4), should deal with the question of whether it is 'unjust' to make an order under the Rule separately for each of the consequences set out in paragraphs (a)-(d). In other words; the Court has the power to award all, some, or none of the penalties. The Claimant disagreed that the Court should be entitled to disapply one of the penalties.
Master McCloud adopted the Defendant's view, although with some doubt.
She found the argument presented by the Claimant based on the policy of rule 36.17, namely "to promote settlement and avoid unnecessary expenditure of costs and time”, persuasive and stated that "the wording of rule 36.17 (4) to my mind is itself indicative of the test of 'injustice' being intended to be applied globally to sub-rules (a)-(d)".
Nevertheless, Master McCloud found, referring to Thinc Group Limited v Kingdom and Ayton v Jennison, that even if not strictly bound by precedent, the preferred judicial construction was that "it is open to the court to apply 36.17(4)(d), or not, or to the extent considered just, in any given case independently of parts (a)-(c) (…)".
She proceeded to disapply paragraph (d) and not award the additional 10%.
What can we learn?
The full transcript of the judgment can be found here.