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Booth v Britannia Hotels Limited, Court of Appeal, 26 March 2002

2 April 2002
The issues

Costs – exaggeration of injury.

The facts

The Claimant suffered a crush injury to her left hand. She was subsequently diagnosed as suffering from reflex sympathetic dystrophy. A Schedule of Loss to the extent of £617,000.00 was served shortly before the Trial. The Defendants disclosed video evidence which showed Claimant with full movement of the affected limb. The Claimant subsequently agreed to accept an earlier Payment into Court of £2,500.00 and the Defendant agreed to bear the Claimant’s costs. The Costs were over £82,000.00. The District Judge ordered the Defendant to pay 60% of the sum claimed finding that the video evidence had been disclosed late. The Judge dismissed the Defendant’s Appeal agreeing that the Defendant had decided to disclose the video evidence late for tactical reasons and had therefore to suffer the costs consequences. The Defendants appealed.

The decision

1. The decisions on costs which were within the discretion of the Judge should not be interfered with unless they were plainly wrong.

2. This decision was plainly wrong; it could not be reasonable to conclude that a party could recover in excess of £50,000, for a recovery of £2,500.

3. The Claimant had pursued a claim for an injury she had not suffered. There was no reason for the defendant to bear those costs.

Appeal allowed and matter remitted to the District Judge.

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