horwich farrelly

Another Successful Challenge to QOCS Protection

May, 20, 2015

Claimant solicitors continue to demonstrate a misunderstanding of QOCS as shown in a recent win by Horwich Farrelly. Wasting court resources with meritless claims can see enforceable cost orders awarded against the claimant.

In the case of Murphy v Aviva (2015) the claimant’s litigation friend, Betty Murphy, submitted a personal injury claim after a vehicle “shunt” where liability had been admitted. It was claimed a 13 month old child had suffered “moderate shakiness and fear of travel but no physical injuries” following the incident.

Upon reviewing the case a defence was filed stating that, in the absence of a diagnosis of any recognisable psychiatric condition pursuant to the decision in Nicholls v Rushton (1992), the claim should be dismissed.

Following the matter being listed for trial, Horwich Farrelly contacted the claimant’s solicitors urging them to withdraw the claim. Their response was “We shall proceed to trial in this matter as there are no costs risks to our client”.

At the trial we applied to the court to strike out the claim on the grounds that the statement of case disclosed “no reasonable grounds for bringing or defending the claim”, pursuant to 3.4(2)(a) of the Civil Procedure Rules.

After reviewing the medical evidence submitted, the District Judge found that in the absence of a recognised psychiatric injury or physical injury there were no reasonable grounds for bringing the claim. The judge struck out the claim.

“Held to Ransom”

In this case it was clear that the QOCS provisions were being abused with the claimant effectively “holding our client to ransom” with the threat of the defendant incurring further, unrecoverable, costs if no settlement proposals were forthcoming.

Under CPR 44.15 (a) QOCS protection can be revoked when “the claimant has disclosed no reasonable grounds for bringing the proceedings”. In the circumstances, and given that the claim had been struck out, we maintained that protection did not apply.

On reviewing the correspondence the judge agreed with our argument that our client had incurred costs defending a claim which should never have reached trial, on the basis that the claimant had “nothing to lose”.

The judge ordered QOCS protection to be removed and an enforceable order was made to pay the defendant’s costs totalling £3,000.

This outcome further demonstrates our progressive approach to ensuring our clients are not held liable for costs of defending meritless cases. The result comes just after Horwich Farrelly announced it had secured its sixtieth enforceable cost order in relation to LSI claims, the highest published figure within the insurance industry to date.

If you would like any further information or to discuss these matters further please do not hesitate to contact Patrick McCarthy on 0161 214 5741 or by e-mail at patrickmccarthy@horwichfarrelly.co.uk.

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