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Hempstead v Devon County Council, Exeter County Court, 26 July 2004

3 August 2004
The issues

Infant Approval – Hearing Adjourned Because Medical Evidence Incomplete – Whether Costs Should Be Ordered Against Claimant At Resumed Hearing

The facts

The Claimant’s claim for personal injuries was concluded subject to approval by the Court. The Hearing was listed for 9th March 2004. The prognosis in the medical evidence in the Claimant’s solicitors possession was that the Claimant’s headaches would have resolved by that time. The Defendants who attended the settlement were told on the morning of the hearing that the prognosis had not been met. Accordingly the District Judge felt unable to approve a settlement.

At the resumed settlement the Defendant’s solicitors made an Application for costs.

The decision

1. To be told on the morning of a hearing that the prognosis had not been met was too late. The Court would have expected the Claimant’s solicitor to have questioned the Claimant or the Claimant’s parents in the lead up to the Hearing as to whether she had recovered as expected and a prudent and cautious solicitor in such a situation would take a view as to whether any further investigation was necessary and whether the agreement figure remained sufficient in these circumstances.

2. It was perfectly appropriate for a defendant to attend an Infant Approval Hearing.

3. Costs had been wasted. Formal application was not necessary. The Defendant’s costs of the initial hearing would be set of against the Claimant’s costs.


For further information please contact Kate Winston at katewinston@veitchpenny.co.uk.

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