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Taylor v Anderson, Court of Appeal

14 November 2002
The issues

Strike out – delay – whether fair Trial possible.

The facts

The Claimant was involved in an RTA in 1990. As the Claimant came over the brow of a hill, he collided head-on with a low-loader that was on his side of the road. The low-loader was overtaking a stationary truck. Both the owner of the truck and the owner of the low-loader were sued. Allegations were made by the Defendants as to the Claimant’s speed. Plans had been drawn up as part of a Police Report with braking distances and skid marks noted. Proceedings were issued in 1994 and were automatically stayed in April 2000, as a result of Civil Procedure Rules Part 51 (Transitional Arrangements). In 2001 application was made by the Defendants for the claim to be struck out. The District Judge struck the claim out on the basis that he was doubtful that the case could proceed to a fair Trial because of the delay. The Claimant appealed.

The decision

1. The question to be answered was whether there was a substantial risk that a fair Trial was impossible. The case should not be struck out unless that answer was unequivocally yes.

2. The Judge’s view that that there was doubt as to whether it was possible to have a fair Trial or that it was unlikely that a fair Trial was possible, was not enough to justify striking out.

3. The evidence before the Judge had to be addressed and in particular, 3 issues:-

(i) Whether the position of the low-loader at the time was the result of the driver’s negligence;

(ii) Whether the position of the truck that was stationary was the result of that truck owner’s negligence;

(iii) Whether there had been contribution on the part of the Claimant by virtue of his speed.

4. Notwithstanding the amount of time that had passed, these were matters that could have been considered by the Court. The Judge would have had the assistance of witness statements taken soon after the accident. It could not be said there was a substantial risk that a fair Trial was impossible.

Appeal allowed.

Comments

A striking instance of a refusal to strike out the case of a matter 13 years old!

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