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Williams v Devon County Council, Court of Appeal, 27 May 2002

27 May 2002
The issues

Payment into Court – costs – Davies -v- Inman – CRU benefits.

The facts

Defendants paid into Court the sum of £10,000.00 together with £15,000.00 benefits leaving a grossed up Payment into Court of £25,000.00. At Trial, the Claimant was found one third contributorily negligent for her trip and in addition the Claimant’s arguments on causation were rejected and the Judge made a finding limiting her loss of earnings to a lower period than that for which the Compensation Recovery Unit claimed benefits. She was awarded less than the Payment into Court at Trial.

The Claimant appealed to the Court of Appeal interalia on the grounds that if the Claimant was successful in an Appeal in respect of those benefits, the amount that she would “take home” would be greater than the cash value of the Part 36 Payment by the Defendants, ie the actual sum paid into Court which was grossed up by benefits. In other words, the Claimants were relying on the case of Davies -v- Inman, a case under the Old Rules. The Claimant, at the time that the matter came before the Court of Appeal, had neither concluded nor even started the process of Appeal. The Defendant therefore argued that the Appeal should be dismissed on the grounds that the Court of Appeal were being asked to overturn a Judgment of the Court below on the basis of an argument that had not been put to the Judge and in respect of which no finding had been made by the Judge, and further, in a case where no new evidence was before the Court of Appeal, or where any Application had been made for any such evidence to be put before the Court. Indeed, as the Court of Appeal noted in its Judgment there was no evidence at this stage.

The decision

1. The Court of Appeal were not willing to dismiss the Appeal, believing that there was an issue of general importance that needed resolution.

Accordingly, the Appeal has been stood out until October, by which time the position with regard to the process of the Claimant’s Appeal as to benefits should be known.

Comments

We believe the Claimant’s Appeal is ill-founded, on the basis that Davies -v- Inman is clearly distinguishable. Indeed, the new form of Payment Notice arguably takes account of the Davies -v- Inman situation by expressly referring to the grossed up value of the payment offered to the Claimant. Defendants often have to take the “risk” when concluding an action with substantial benefits, that they may or may not be successful before the Appeals Tribunal at a later stage (providing the Judgment of course has been drawn up correctly so as to provide that any recoupable benefits do not go back to the Claimant). We see no reason why the Claimant should be in any better position – not least where the whole situation has been brought about by the rejection of the Claimant’s case as put to the Court below.

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