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Jackson v Ministry of Defence, Court of Appeal, 12 January 2006

17 January 2006
The issues

Part 36 Offer – Exaggerated Claim – Joint Settlement Meeting – Costs

The facts

The Claimant sued the Defendant in a personal injury action. The Trial proceeded on quantum only. The Claimant had a large claim for future loss of earnings and adapted accommodation. Those claims were abandoned when the medical evidence did not support the claims. The effect on the claim was to reduce it from over a million pounds to a quarter of a million pounds. The Part 36 Payment into Court was made in the sum of £150,000.00. The Defendants were ordered to attend a Pre Trial joint settlement meeting. The meeting was unsuccessful. At Trial the Claimant was awarded £155,000.00. The Judge reduced the Claimant’s costs by 25% to reflect the fact that the award had only just beaten the payment into Court and also to reflect the fact that the Claimant had exaggerated his evidence. The Ministry of Defence appealed on the basis that the reduction should have been greater to reflect the increase in costs that had been caused by the exaggeration and that the Judge should have taken into account the joint settlement meeting.

The decision

1. The process in respect of joint settlement meetings was confidential. Offers made and rejected were confidential unless they were clearly stated to be without prejudice as to costs.

2. A further Part 36 Offer could have been made by the Ministry of Defence after the unsuccessful joint settlement meetings. The Ministry of Defence had not done so. The Judge had taken into account the fact that the payment in had only just been beaten. Specific items could be challenged on Detailed Assessment. The reduction in costs was likely to act as a disincentive to Claimants who sought to make exaggerated claims. The order made was within the discretion of the Judge.

Appeal dismissed.

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