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Collins v CPS Fuels Ltd, Court of Appeal, 9 October 2001

16 October 2001
The issues

Whether Second Set of Proceedings should be struck out for abuse following striking out of First Set for Procedural Failures.

The facts

The Claimant was three when in 1994 she was in a car with her Mother and Father, which was hit by a car owed by the Defendant Company. She was injured. In March 1995 Judgment was entered in her favour on liability. She had a badly fractured skull and no settlement could be reached at that stage. There was a sequence of failures to comply with Orders of the Court on the part of her Solicitors between 1996 and 1999. The Solicitors failed to attend the Case Management Conference Listed for August 1999. An Unless Order was made but again there was non-compliance and failure to attend the Second Case Management Conference in September. The Proceedings were struck out by the Judge. Application was made to set aside that Order which was refused by the Judge in January 2000 but no application for permission to Appeal was made.

In March 2000 a Second Set of Proceedings was issued by the Claimant in respect of the same accident and injuries. The Defendants applied to strike out as an abuse and in August 2000 the proceedings were accordingly struck out. The Judge relying on Arbuthnot Latham Bank v Trafalgar Holdings found that it was an abuse to seek damages in the Second Proceedings where the First had been struck out for an inexcusable delay and an abuse of Court Orders. The Claimant Appealed.

The decision

1. Whether to strike out was a matter for the discretion of the Judge. The role of the Court of Appeal was to consider the exercise of that discretion.

2. In this case the exercise of the Judge’s discretion was faultless. He had considered all the circumstances and found no “special reasons” to let the Second Set of Proceedings proceed. His use of the words “special reasons” was not sanctified by Authority but was an attractive form, which summed up the right approach in these circumstances. The Appeal was dismissed.

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