Kerry Underwood

QOCS, DISCONTINUANCE AND STRIKE-OUT AND OTHER THINGS

with one comment


These issues are dealt with in my book Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting, Section 57 Set-off available from Amazon here.

In Shaw v Medtronic Corevalve LLC & Others [2017] EWHC 1397 (QB)

the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court refused to set aside a Notice of Discontinuance and refused to give permission to Defendants to enforce a Costs Order in a Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting case.

The discontinuance did not amount to an abuse of process and although there were elements of the claim outside the ambit of QOCS protection, they were either not pleaded, or were de minimis and would not have added to the costs of the action.

Previously the court had set aside permission to the Claimant to serve the First and Third Defendants out of the jurisdiction and the claim against the Fourth Defendant was struck out and the Claimant then discontinued against the Fifth Defendant.

Now, the Claimant sought permission to amend the Particulars of Claim against the Second Defendant, who was the one remaining Defendant.

The First, Third and Fifth Defendants applied for leave to enforce the Costs Orders made against the Claimant.

The judge refused permission to the Claimant to amend against the Second Defendant and then struck out the claim against that Defendant.

Thus the position in relation to claim was:

First Defendant:              Service set aside

Second Defendant:         Struck out

Third Defendant:            Service set aside

Fourth Defendant:          Struck out

Fifth Defendant:              Discontinued.

CPR 44.15 reads:

Exceptions to Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting where permission not required

44.15 Orders for costs made against the claimant may be enforced to the full extent of such orders without the permission of the court where the proceedings have been struck out on the grounds that –

(a) the claimant has disclosed no reasonable grounds for bringing the proceedings;

(b) the proceedings are an abuse of the court’s process; or

(c) the conduct of –

(i) the claimant; or

(ii) a person acting on the claimant’s behalf and with the claimant’s knowledge of such conduct,

is likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings.”

In relation to the First and Third Defendants, the claim had not been struck out, even though the judge held that the Claimant had disclosed no reasonable grounds for bringing the proceedings and had said that had the Claim Form been served within the jurisdiction, he would have struck the claims out as having no reasonable grounds.

However, as the claim was served outside the jurisdiction the appropriate remedy was to set aside service.

Neither had the claim been struck out against the Fifth Defendant – it had been discontinued.

Thus CPR 44.15(1)(a), relating to strike-out, could not apply in relation to any of these three Defendants.

Setting aside discontinuance   

The Fifth Defendant sought an order setting aside the Notice of Discontinuance, so as to allow the court to consider striking out the claim on the basis that the Claimant had no reasonable grounds for bringing the proceedings.

That would have the effect of bringing the matter back within the CPR 44.15(1)(a) exception to QOCS.

The judge refused, saying that:

“… the Claimant had a right to discontinue under CPR rule 38.2. It was a proper use of that power, and to be encouraged, for the Claimant to recognise … that her claim against the Fifth Defendant was not sustainable and to discontinue that claim (Paragraph 53).”

The court recognised that it had power under CPR 38.4 to set aside a Notice of Discontinuance and the authorities suggested that that should only be done if there had been an abuse of process in serving the Notice of Discontinuance.

The rule itself is silent as to when the power should be exercised.

The judge held that the facts here were not an abuse of process “or anything sufficient to justify setting aside the Notice of Discontinuance (Paragraph 58).”

The court left open the possibility that servicing Notice of Discontinuance to avoid the claim being struck out on the no reasonable grounds basis, and thus triggering disqualification from QOCS protection, could be an abuse of process justifying the setting aside of the Notice of Discontinuance, but that was not the position here.

A claim made for the benefit of the Claimant other than a claim to which this section applies

This exception is interpreted to mean a non-personal injury claim.

There is an inherent problem with this exception, which is to be found in CPR 44.16(2)(b), and where the court’s permission to enforce a Costs Order is required.

The problem is that CPR 44.13(1) provides:

“(1) This Section applies to proceedings which include a claim for damages –

(a) for personal injuries;

Thus the whole of the claim does not need to be for personal injuries and the protection is not limited to the personal injury element.

If it were otherwise, the wording would have been something like:

“… which includes claim for damages for personal injuries, but only to those parts of the claim that are for personal injury.”

Even the judge got confused, referring to CPR 44.12.1. That deals with set-off.

Nevertheless the judge’s rulings at paragraphs 60 and 61 are useful guidance as to how such hybrid claims may be treated.

“60. This sub-rule applies if the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim include a claim which falls outside the scope of CPR 44.12.1. There were only two candidates for such a claim. The first is the claim for misrepresentation and deceit. This is referred to in the Claim Form, but not pleaded in the Particulars of Claim, as I noted in paragraph 12.2(d) of the First Judgment. I therefore ignore it. The second is the free-standing claim in unjust enrichment, but, as I said in paragraphs 32 to 35 of the First Judgment, it was unclear whether the Particulars of Claim did include a free-standing claim in unjust enrichment. Moreover, the Claimant did not obtain permission to serve the Claim Form out of the jurisdiction insofar as it contained a free-standing claim in unjust enrichment. Consequently, there was no such claim against the First and Third Defendants and CPR 44.16.1(b) does not apply to them.

 

  1. Assuming that there is a pleaded free-standing claim in unjust enrichment against the Fifth Defendant, it overlaps entirely with the claim for restitutionary damages. The additional costs incurred in dealing with the free-standing claim are minimal and it would not be just to make an order under section 44.16.1(b) on that account. I would have reached the same conclusion in relation to the First and Third Defendants if I had found that CPR 44.16.1(b) applied to them.”

The judge also suggested that the Civil Procedure Rules Committee may care to reconsider the scope of CPR 44.15(1)(a).

Comment

A number of cases on QOCS are now being decided.

This is an exceptionally complicated subject and the Civil Procedure Rules plumb new depths of incomprehension.

Fortunately it is all explained in my book – Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting, Section 57 Set-off – available from Amazon here.

 

See also:

KERRY ON QOCS: BOOK UPDATE AND LINKS: UNIFIED

QOCS, APPEALS, SET-OFF & KAFKA

QOCS, PART 36, TWO DEFENDANTS: SOME PROBLEMS

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Written by kerryunderwood

July 17, 2017 at 8:54 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Reblogged this on | truthaholics.

    truthaholics

    July 17, 2017 at 11:16 pm


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