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Craig v Rail Track Plc, High Court

27 February 2002
The issues

Costs – indemnity – Part 36 Offers – admission of liability.

The facts

The Claimants were injured in an accident in March 1996 when the train they were on collided with wagons that had come loose from another engine. The matter was listed for a Liability Trial. Liability was conceded 6 days before the Trial was due to take place. They applied for their costs on indemnity basis.

The decision

1. They were not entitled to rely on 36.21 (providing the Court may award costs on an indemnity basis and interest on those costs at a rate no higher than 10% above base where at Trial a Defendant is held liable for more or Judgment is more advantageous to the Claimant than proposals contained in a Claimant’s Part 36 Offer). That Rule applied only where a Trial had taken place.

2. The Court retained its discretion under Civil Procedure Rules 44.3 (dealing with Court’s discretion generally as to costs).

3. It had taken the Defendants 5 years to admit liability. This was too long and unreasonably so. The Defendant should have been in a position to assess their liability by October 1999.

4. Accordingly, indemnity costs would be allowed from that date. Costs prior to that date would be paid on the standard basis.

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