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PI and Civil Litigation

Law - practice - procedure

28 JUL 2014

Pervez Akhtar v Jordan Boland [2014] EWCA Civ 872

Pervez Akhtar v Jordan Boland [2014] EWCA Civ 872
Court of Appeal
 Lady Justice Gloster, Lord Justice Floyd, Sir Stanley Burnton
 25 June 2014

 The Judge at first instance had not erred in treating a sum stated in a defence to a damages claim as an admission, which reduced the amount in dispute to a level which made the claim suitable for allocation to the small claims track.

 The claimant had claimed damages in his particulars of claim totalling just over £6,000. The defendant admitted damages in his defence totalling just under £2,500 and the claim was allocated to the small claims track on the basis that the defendant’s partial admission of various heads of the claim reduced the amount in dispute to under the fast track limit (at the time the threshold for the small claims track was £5,000). The claimant appealed against the allocation and his appeal was dismissed. A costs order was also made that he pay the defendant’s costs of the appeal which the claimant also appealed.

 On appeal to the Court of Appeal, it was held that firstly, the district judge had interpreted the defence as including an unqualified admission that the claimant was entitled to £2,496 and entered judgment for that sum. Judgment had been obtained and there had been no application to set it aside and so CPR Part 26 applied. Under CPR, r 26.8(1)(a) the financial value of the claim was to be determined disregarding any sum not in dispute, meaning that in this case, because £2,500 of a £6,000 claim had been admitted, the value of the claim was reduced to under £5,000 and the claim should be allocated to the small claims track (CPR PD 26A, para 7.4(2)).

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Secondly, the Court accepted the argument that they had no power to order the claimant to pay the defendant’s costs as the case was allocated to the small claims track, which following CPR PD 44.15.1(3)(iv) could apply to work done both before and after allocation where an order on costs in respect of work done before allocation had not been made. The costs order was set aside.

 It is interesting that, even without a formal admission, the fact that the sum of £2,496 was accepted in the defence was treated as an admission. If this is what had been intended, had the claimant sought clarification immediately following service of the defence they could have applied to have judgment set aside and the outcome may well have been different.

Katherine Browne, Anthony Gold