The Court of Appeal has ruled that costs protection should be applied to parties who were added to a claim after new rules were introduced.
In Corstorphine (An Infant) v Liverpool City Council, the claimant argued the lower court had been wrong to conclude that qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) could not apply to two defendants joined to proceedings.
The successful appeal represents a victory for the claimant who faced being burdened with a costs bill encompassing all opposing parties.
The claimant, who ended up making an unsuccessful claim for damages for personal injury, had issued the initial claim before the QOCS regime, with the second and third defendants added after new rules came into effect in April 2013.
Following the trial, Mr Recorder Edge gave a further judgment ordering that Corstorphine pay the second and third defendants’ costs of the primary claim, with the first defendant paying their costs in the additional claim. Effectively, the judge held that the QOCS regime did not apply to the claimant where defendants had been joined onto proceedings post-2013.
The claimant, represented by Liverpool firm EAD Solicitors, argued that Edge erred in finding that its pre-2013 conditional fee agreement encompassed the claims brought against the second and third defendants, with the result he was not entitled to benefit from QOCS in respect of their costs.
In the appeal, it was also said the judge was wrong to direct that the first defendant could recover from the claimant the costs it owed to the other defendants.
Lord Justice Hamblen, sitting in the Court of Appeal, stressed the purpose of the QOCS regime had been to protect PI claimants from adverse costs orders.
In the present case, in the absence of a CFA which applied to the added parties, he said the claimant was afforded no protection against such orders.
Hamblen said the judge should have concluded that the QOCS regime applied to the claims made against the second and third defendants. He continued that the judge had failed to take into account the applicability of the QOCS regime to the claims against the additional defendants.
The original decision was set aside and the costs order against the claimant varied to exclude any costs of the second and third defendants which the first defendant had been ordered to pay.