Two claimants have been allowed to keep their conditional fee agreements despite giving notice to the defendant three-and-a-half months late.
Antonio Caliendo and Barnaby Holdings LLC had entered into CFAs with global firm DLA Piper and counsel in February and March 2013, and also entered into an ATE insurance policy in February 2013.
The agreements were in relation to an intended claim against international firm Mishcon de Reya over the sale and disposal of shares in 2009.
Notice of funding agreements is bound by civil procedure rules to be given within seven days, meaning DLA Piper had until 27 February to notify the defendant.
In the event, DLA Piper informed Robin Simon, representing Mishcon de Reya, through a letter dated 11 June saying the claimants were ready to issue proceedings. The letter gave the defendants until 14 June to make a sensible offer of settlement, failing which proceedings would be issued and served on 17 June.
DLA Piper explained that the oversight only came to light when proceedings were being finalised and argued for relief from sanctions.
But the defendants maintained sanctions – which would in effect render the agreements unenforceable – were necessary as the late notice had affected how they would have acted in proceedings.
The case was deferred until after the judgments in both the Mitchell and Denton cases, in which master of the rolls Lord Dyson ruled on matters of relief from sanctions.
Following a one-day hearing in March 2014 and further written submissions in July, the Honourable Mr Justice Hildyard (pictured) found that relief could be granted.
He accepted the claimants could not legitimately rely on any ‘good reason’ for their default and delay.
But he ruled it would not be ‘fair, just or appropriate’ to deny the claimants relief, having not been persuaded the defendants would have been prejudiced by the breach and any denial of relief.
He added: ‘Whilst the default in this case was serious in the sense that it occurred in respect of a rule for which an automatic sanction is imposed in the event of its breach, I do not consider in the round that it occasioned serious and/or significant adverse effect on the efficient conduct and progress of this litigation nor of the conduct and progress of other litigation in these courts.
‘Despite the need to encourage compliance, I do not consider it would be just to withhold relief from sanction.’
The question of costs will be considered after the formal judgment.