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Toyota Financial Services (UK) Plc v Sharma

25 September 2002
The issues

Costs – proportionality

The facts

The Defendant was a Director of Bridge House Motors Limited which held a dealership from the Claimants. They received financial assistance from the Claimant and the Defendant and his wife entered into guarantees. They defaulted and the Claimant sued on the guarantee. The Claimants obtained a Summary Judgment before the Master. As against the husband, the claim was £353,000.00 and the costs £147,500.00. As against the wife, the claim was £71,500.00 and the costs £121,857.00.

The proceedings took less than a year.

Before the Master on the Summary Judgment Application were 3 lever arch files of documents. Essentially, the Master on the Summary Judgment Application took the view that the Defendant was taking technical points.

The Defendant argued that the costs were disproportionate. The Claimant instructed Mr Graham, a Senior Partner, who had run the case with assistance from no less than 15 other Fee Earners, although never all 15 at the same time.

The decision

1. The way in which this case had been conducted was similar to “using a sledge hammer to crack a nut”.

2. The Claimant’s Solicitors had “carried out a deluxe job”.

3. The costs were disproportionate in accordance with the decision in Lownds -v- The Home Office. The costs payable by the First Defendant would be reduced to £58,304.00 and against the Second Defendant £39,867.00.

4. In view of the substantially reduced sums allowed, the Claimants would be allowed only one half of their costs of the Detailed Assessment.

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