A High Court judge has heavily criticised the parties in a hotly contested personal injury case for their lack of co-operation.
Mr Justice Edis (pictured) said the claimant and defendants were responsible for the case becoming ‘bogged down in attritional warfare’ of a kind which used to be more common than it is today.
The claim involved damages for an injury at work, when a cardiac physiologist suffered a back injury attempting to help transfer a patient.
The incident happened in 2007, with liability admitted in April 2009. Proceedings were issued just before the expiry of the primary limitation period and judgment in default of acknowledgement of service entered in July 2010. The case was finally fixed for trial in April 2016.
That trial date was vacated by Mr Justice Foskett and the defendant given permission to rely on covertly recorded video surveillance evidence.
Last month the parties returned again: the defendant (represented by BLM, Leeds) seeking permission to plead the claimant exaggerated the nature of her injuries, and the claimant (represented by Dawson Hart) seeking permission to rely on a video evidence expert.
In Hayden v Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, Edis began a pre-trial ruling by noting that both parties had not co-operated effectively.
Foskett, he said, had been ‘rightly critical’ of BLM when the judge said the defendant solicitors were responsible for extra costs through late obtaining and deployment of material.
But Edis said the claimant was due a ‘large slice of the fault’ for taking wholly unmeritorious points and making unfounded allegations of bad faith against BLM.
He expressed hope the parties would be able to agree in the final pre-trial preparation and said costs orders would follow if this was not achieved.
‘I regret to say that a great deal of time and money has been spent by solicitors on both sides attacking the conduct of the opposing party in witness statements which simply generates yet further statements in response,’ added Edis.
‘It appears to me that the case has been bogged down in attritional warfare of a kind which used to be far more common than it is now. The issues before me were all capable of resolution by agreement by parties sensibly co-operating towards a trial.’
Edis allowed the defendant’s application for permission to serve its defence, but rejected the claimant’s application on the basis it was unnecessary.