May 9th, 2014

Court of Appeal considers time-limited offers

Saigol v Thorney Ltd (T/A/ Thorney Motorsport) [2014] EWCA Civ 556

The Court of Appeal considered the relevance of an offer to settle which was only left open for acceptance for a period of 22 hours.  S had taken his 20-year old BMW to T for it to be modified for use in racing.  T subsequently sought more than the agreed price of the work and refused to return the vehicle pending payment.  S failed to pay and T advertised the car for sale.  S successfully secured an injunction and issued proceedings for damages.  T brought a counterclaim.

The parties attended a mediation, which was ultimately unsuccessful and T made an offer to accept £2,000.00 the following day, which was open for acceptance for a period of 22 hours only.  The matter proceeded to trial and for reasons that are unapparent from the judgement the trial of this straightforward, low-value dispute was allowed two days of Court time before a circuit judge.  The trial judge found for S against T for £745 of his claim and for T against S for £375 of its claim: T would therefore pay a balance of £370 to S.  On the question of costs, the trial judge considered the claim to be a draw and had found that the parties had advanced financial claims of ‘unjustified magnitude’, but ordered S to pay T’s costs from 21 days after T’s offer as S had failed to better it.  Notwithstanding the limited sums in issue in the claim itself, S sought legal costs of £67,000 and T sought legal costs of £77,000.  S successfully appealed the order as to costs.  Rimer LJ found that: ‘those who are really serious about achieving [settlement] do not make offers that are open for just 22 hours and should receive no credit for making offers that are so time-limited’ and substituted the trial judge’s order for one of no order as to costs, leaving the parties to bear the £144,000 in legal costs apparently incurred.

Posted in Commercial, Costs | No Comments »

January 21st, 2013

Court of Appeal considers the 2008 Cancellation of Contracts Regulations:

The Court of Appeal determined the application of the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc Regulations 2008 in the case of Robertson v Swift [2012] EWCA Civ 1794.  The contract concerned an agreement between the Claimant removal company and the Defendant customer.  The agreement was entered into over the course of two visits to the Defendant’s home and did not provide for the requisite cancellation notice.  The Defendant sought to cancel the agreement within 7 days after he found a cheaper quote from another company.  The Claimant sued for its cancellation charge, as set out in the agreement and succeeded at trial and on the Defendant’s appeal in the County Court.  Whilst the Court of Appeal expressed regret in reaching its decision, it found for the Defendant on the basis that the consequences of failing to give notice of the right to cancel in the agreement are clear and the contract was unenforceable in law.  The Court of Appeal dismissed the Defendant’s appeal for the return of the £1,000.00 he had paid by way of deposit on the basis that the Defendant was not entitled to a refund under paragraph 10(1) of the 2008 Regulations and had not suggested any other legal basis upon which he was entitled to a refund.  The Court of Appeal expressed a hope that the Regulations would be amended to avoid such harsh consequences for removals companies, as they were often small businesses and needed to attend the customer’s house to assess the work required.  Further, they may have to incur costs and turn away work in the cancellation period (in the instant case, the agreement was entered into on 28.07.2011 and the Defendant’s move was scheduled for 05.08.2011).




Posted in Commercial, Costs, Private | No Comments »

January 19th, 2012

Interest on Costs

On 31.01.2012 the Court of Appeal will hear Simcoe v Jacuzzi UK Group plc, an appeal that will hopefully result in a judgment that ends the long-running debate over the date from which interest on legal costs runs.

Posted in Commercial, Costs | No Comments »

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