A City firm which saw off a £15m negligence claim has enjoyed more success on the issue of costs.
Former Ernst and Young partner Cathal Lyons lost a damages claim against his former legal advisers Fox Williams in the High Court last October.
Lyons suffered serious injuries in 2006 from a motorcycle accident and argued that he had not been advised about a potential long-term disability claim and missed out on an English law and jurisdiction clause in an ‘exit’ agreement with Ernst and Young.
Mr Justice Turner ruled Lyons’ claim had failed and he could recover no damages, but the judge did rule that Fox Williams was unsuccessful on some lines of defence.
On that basis, Lyons asked the court to make a ‘different order’ on costs, choosing not to apply the general rule that the unsuccessful party pays the other side’s costs.
In Lyons v Fox Williams, the claimant contended that the fact the defendant raised a number of unsuccessful arguments should be reflected in an issue-based order: Turner accepted these arguments were ‘sufficiently discrete’ to amount to issues.
But despite losing on certain matters, the judge said the ‘over-arching result was complete victory’ for the law firm, which had succeeded on the most important issues which had taken most time and effort.
Fox Williams, he said, had not taken a ‘kitchen sink’ approach to the litigation by arguing every issue possible. Turner added: ‘This was a commercial case of a complexity which almost inevitably meant that no side would be successful on each and every area of dispute.’
The court heard Fox Williams had made an offer to settle in January 2016 for £500,000, an offer which was rejected.
Turner said this rejection was ‘unwise’ but did not merit the further burden of indemnity costs.
The judge ordered the claimant pay an interim £500,000 ahead of a detailed costs assessment. He also awarded the defendants £10,000 to cover a set aside application.