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Litigants in person – Chelfat v Chaudhry's Restaurant Limited

  • 11 November 2019 11 November 2019
Litigants in person – Chelfat v Chaudhry's Restaurant Limited

The Claimant, a litigant in person, suffered food poisoning after eating at the Defendant's premises, subsequently pursuing a claim for damages. The Claimant was awarded £6,500 by HHJ Roberts for general damages with interest of £450 plus past financial losses of £321 (including interest). Her costs were summarily assessed in the sum of £2,750.

The Claimant appealed her general damages and costs awards. She argued that HHJ Roberts had considered the incorrect paragraph of the Judicial College Guidelines for assessing damage and failed to consider any of the case law she provided. With regards to her costs, she submitted that these were reasonable and proportionate and the judge erroneously applied the cap in CPR 46.5(2). She submitted she claimed considerably less than it would have cost for a trainee solicitor to prepare the case.

Mr Justice Murray allowed the appeal, and varied the original order of HHJ Roberts. He found that the Claimant's evidence supported that the wrong bracket of the JC Guidelines had been applied; there was nothing in the judgment to indicate the judge did not believe the Claimant's evidence and no reasons were given for discounting any of her evidence. However, the Claimant's assertion that the judge should have considered her case law was unmerited. The Claimant was awarded £10,958.50 inclusive of interest for damages.

Mr Justice Murray also found that HHJ Roberts erroneously applied the two thirds cap to the Claimant's claimed costs rather than by reference to a hypothetical legal representative's costs for the same work, as is required CPR 46.5(2). As such, her appeal on costs succeeded and she was awarded £4,440 which included the cost of the medical report.

The Claimant was additionally awarded the costs of the appeal, to be summarily assessed at a later date.

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