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The defendant applied for an order to limit the number of witnesses the claimant could call at trial.
17 December 2013, Queen's Bench Division
The claimant suffered severe brain injury following an accident at work. The defendant admitted liability subject to a 25 per cent reduction for contributory negligence. Therefore the issue of quantum remained outstanding.
The claimant proposed calling 43 witnesses to cover four main issues had the accident not occurred. These included whether the claimant could have worked abroad and earned more than he would have in the UK; whether the claimant would have retired at 65 or 70; what chances he had of promotion and what earnings he could have expected.
The defendant argued that pursuant to CPR r 32.3(3) the claimant should be limited to calling eight witnesses in respect of this head of loss. CPR r 32.3(3) came into effect following the Jackson reforms and allows the court to suggest possible solutions in order to reduce costs and ensure trial is conducted efficiently.
The court took into account the fact that there was significant duplication in some statements and there was a considerable lack of corroborative disclosure. The claimant was permitted to call 14 witnesses to deal with the issue of comparative earnings. Fourteen was the minimum number of witnesses the claimant considered necessary to address the issues of comparators fairly. The defendant did not object to this figure. The claimant was permitted to call a further 14 witnesses to deal with matters other that comparative earnings. Any fewer was likely to cause injustice.
A helpful case, though the number of witnesses sought and subsequently allowed is unusual due to the nature of the claim for loss of earnings. The claimant was a Mechanical Superintendant/Foreman Fitter and it was a specialist and highly skilled role.