Civil litigation - Case management
Singh v Kaur and others: Court of Appeal, Civil Division (Lord Justices Lloyd and Sullivan): 29 November 2011
S had been the sixth defendant in proceedings in which the claimant (P) had asserted her ownership of the beneficial interest in a number of properties. S had been relevant in respect of two properties which it had been claimed had been held free from any interest under alleged trusts on the part of S and the other five defendants to the action. S had counterclaimed for a declaration that trust documents had been valid and effective, and he had accordingly sought consequential relief relating to the properties that had been subject to the claim.
Relief of that kind had to be sought against P as well as the other defendants to the action, however, the relevance of additional claims had not occurred to S. A number of case management orders had been made, including directions that any party seeking to file an additional claim was to have done so by a specified date. S had failed to file an additional claim relating to the declaration that he had sought.
Despite further case management orders and a consent order being made, no additional claim had been validly made. P had subsequently settled the claim as against the first to fifth defendants to the action, and soon after, S applied for a further opportunity to serve additional claims on those defendants. That application was dismissed on the grounds that S had had more than enough opportunity to bring the additional claims. S appealed.
He submitted that the judge had given too much weight to the delay on his part before coming to the stage of applying for permission to serve an additional claim, and that the delay by itself had not been sufficient to deny relief. Further, S contended that the judge had been wrong to refuse the application because none of the orders that had previously been made had been unless orders. The appeal would be dismissed.
The instant case had not been a case of delay by itself, but a case of a failure to act despite eight orders, some of them by consent, setting a time within which to take the step of serving an additional claim if S had wished to do so. Given the service of an additional claim form had not been something that S had been required to do, but was something that it might have been thought he would wish to do, which was to be controlled by the court's case management powers by the setting of a timetable in respect of S, his failure to take that step in the face of eight successive orders had plainly been relevant to the judge's exercise of discretion and had been something he could legitimately take into account. It had been difficult to imagine how the judge could have reached any other conclusion on the history of the case (see [13,]  of the judgment).
The judge's order had been well within the scope of his discretion and had been made after a proper self-direction as to the law and the relevant factors (see  of the judgment).
Nicola Preston (instructed by Res Ipsa Solicitors, Birmingham) for S; Margaret Griffin and William Buck (instructed by Andrew Jackson Solicitors, Hull, Lee and Priestley Solicitors, Leeds, and CRS Solicitors, Cheshire) for the respondents.