A Court of Appeal judge has granted relief from sanctions for a litigant who was 17 hours late satisfying a court order.
The appellant in Khandanpour v Chambers had been required to pay £10,000 on account of costs by 4pm on 15 June 2017, but the full amount only arrived just before 9am the following morning.
In the county court, His Honour Judge Simpkiss had refused to grant relief from sanction as the appellant had failed to make a payment which was required as a condition for setting aside a default costs certificate. The result was that the default costs certificate stood.
But on appeal, Lord Justice Males applied a degree of leniency to the case, saying this was overall a minor breach and not one which was serious or significant.
‘Ultimately, a sense of perspective is necessary,’ said the judge. ‘For the delay of a few hours which made no practical difference whatever, it would be disproportionate and unjust to deprive the appellant of an opportunity to challenge the default costs certificate.’
The court heard the appellant was a landlord facing a claim for unlawful eviction from the tenant of a property in Canterbury. The tenant obtained judgment for £6,874 in January 2016, together with an order for his costs to be assessed if not agreed.
The landlord, who owned 70 properties, did not pay the judgment debt and did not engage with the process for assessing his costs.
The tenant obtained the default costs certificate of £27,824: when this was not paid the court made an order setting aside the certificate on the basis of the £10,000 being paid on account.
The landlord said he had difficulty raising the money, and was in hospital on the deadline day having surgery on his hand following a knife attack. One payment of £4,000 was made before the 4pm deadline, but the other £6,000 only arrived the following morning.
HHJ Simpkiss had judged this was a complete failure to pay, which had been left to the last minute for no good reason. This was viewed against the background of failure to pay a long outstanding judgment debt.
Males LJ said the tenant’s solicitors were ‘taking advantage of what they regarded as a slip’ by the landlord, albeit believing they were entitled to do so.