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Woodings v British Telecommunications Plc, City of London County Court, 25 March 2003

25 March 2003
The issues

Costs – small claim – allocation – acoustics shock

The facts

A group of Claimants brought actions in respect of an alleged acoustic shock, which had been caused by the equipment provided to them by the Defendant. (Loud, shrill noise through the apparatus worn). All the claims were settled shortly after the Defence, for damages ranging between £500.00 and £750.00. They had not been allocated to any track at the time of settlement. The Claimants sought costs generally and the Defendant argued that these were claims that would have been allocated to the Small Claims Track and that recovery of costs should be limited accordingly.

The decision

1. On allocation, bearing in mind that liability had not been admitted, it is likely that the Court would have ordered a joint Trial on the issue of liability and allocation to the Multi Track on the grounds of the technical nature of the claim and the evidence required.

2. Expense could have been spared if the Defendants had dealt with the claims in a more rational manner.

3. The Defendants having acted unreasonably should pay costs on the standard basis pursuant to CPR 27.14 (2)(d) (the power in respect of matters allocated to the Small Claims Track for the Court to Order further costs beyond those permitted by the Track to be paid by a party who had behaved unreasonably). NB it was conceded by the Claimant that where a case settled before allocation, if it would ordinarily have been allocated to the Small Claims Track then the successful Claimant’s claim for costs should be limited accordingly)

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