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Amin & Anor v Mullings & Anor, High Court, 17 February 2011

10 March 2011
The issues

Costs – CFA – Conditional Fee Agreement – meaning of claim settled on day of Trial.

The facts

The Claimant brought a claim against the Defendant after a road traffic accident. The Defendant Counterclaimed. Both parties entered into Conditional Fee Agreements providing for success fees. The quantum of the main claim was agreed prior to the Trial date. On the day of the Trial liability was compromised on a 50/50 basis. This left the Defendant’s Counterclaim outstanding. The Recorder heard the Counterclaim and gave a Judgment on quantum. The Claimant argued that its claim had been concluded at Trial and therefore the Claimant was entitled to receive a 100% uplift in both solicitors and Counsel’s fees. The Recorder took the view that “Trial” in CPR 45 included negotiations on the day fixed for the commencement of the Hearing. Accordingly, the Claimant was entitled to a 100% uplift.

The Defendant Appealed.

The decision

Having regard to the provisions of CPR 20 and 45.15(6)(b) and (c), the meaning of CPR 45.16(1) was clear. 100% uplift to solicitors fees was appropriate where the claim concluded after the commencement of the contested Hearing of the claim. Where the claim concluded before a Trial had commenced, the uplift was 12.5%. It was immaterial whether the claim was concluded on the date fixed for the Trial, but before it started, or on some earlier date. Accordingly, the Recorder was wrong in awarding an uplift of 100% to solicitors fees. Accordingly, the decision of the Supreme Court Costs Office (as it then was) in Dahele v Thomas Bates & Son Ltd, would not be followed.

Appeal allowed.

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