The Court of Appeal has now handed down judgment in the above decision. Thousands of cases have been stayed whilst this issue was resolved.
This decision concerned the application of fixed recoverable costs for claims which started under the RTA Protocol or the EL/PL Protocol, where the claim exited the portal before conclusion and Part 7 proceedings were commenced. A number of County Courts list the matter for disposal without formally allocating the same.
CPR Rule 45 Section III A sets out formally the level for fixed costs and the level of costs depends on the stage the claim settles at. Table 6B relates to RTA claims, Table 6C for EL claims and Table 6D for PL claims. Effectively there are 3 stages of the litigation which each provide for a different costs figure under the fixed costs rules.
The 3 stages are as follows:
On or after the date of issue, but prior to the date of allocation under CPR Part 26
On or after the date of allocation under CPR Part 26, but prior to the date of listing
On or after the date of listing but prior to the date of trial
The Defendant’s representatives argued that as the matter had been listed for disposal prior to being allocated to track, the matter had not been allocated and therefore the fixed recoverable costs should be limited to those applicable to the post issue/pre allocation phase. The Claimant argued that the matter had been listed for trial and therefore the pre trial phase had commenced and therefore a greater level of costs was recoverable.
The Court of Appeal held that a disposal hearing fell within the definition of “final contested hearing” contained within CPR Part 45. The matter being listed for disposal rendered the Claimant entitled to costs applicable to fixed recoverable costs as per the 3rd stage. It was therefore possible to reach the final stage of fixed recoverable costs by bypassing earlier stages.
Clearly this is a beneficial decision for Claimant’s solicitors.