Fixed costs should apply to an RTA claim even if it has left the protocol and proceeded on the multi-track, a court has ruled.
Sitting in the county court of Birmingham Civil Justice Centre, His Honour Judge David Grant (pictured) rejected three appeals from claimants and asserted that fixed costs should apply.
The trio had been in a car which was in a collision in October 2013 and sought to recover between £5,000 and £15,000 compensation.
The defendant, represented by insurer Esure, suggested the claimants had induced the claim by braking suddenly on a quiet road – a version denied by the claimants.
In June this year, District Judge Salmon ordered on the basis of Civil Procedure Rules that fixed costs should apply and rejected costs management. The CPR regime applies fixed costs to claims valued up to £25,000.
Salmon had stated: ‘The rule is clear on its face that the determining factor is not track but value in respect of the operation of the fixed-costs regime.’
Lawyers for the claimants argued that had Salmon interpreted the rules and the overriding objective correctly he would have concluded fixed costs do not apply to multi-track cases that start under the RTA protocol.
They submitted that the judge had adopted a ‘technical approach rather than a purposive one’ and that there was ‘no room whatever for doubt’ that the fixed-costs scheme was only implemented in relation to the fast-track. They cited the final report of Lord Justice Jackson and two passages of his keynote speech in submission.
But the defendants argued that re-interpreting the rules, as set out in CPR, would do ‘considerable violence’ to the wording and would amount to a ‘re-casting’ of the rule.
In Qadar & Ors v Esure Services Limited, Grant agreed with the latter argument and rejected the idea that the rules were confined to only certain instances of fixed costs.
He also rejected the claimants’ wider submission that it was incumbent on the court to ‘interpret’ the CPR so as to implement the Jackson reforms.
Grant said: ‘[Jackson’s] task was to make recommendations and/or proposals, but not to make the rules: that was an remains the task initially of the rules committee and thereafter of parliament.’
He added that the nature of the underlying proceedings was not ‘such that the implementation of fixed recoverable costs for such a claim would - of itself - cause affront to the overriding objective’.