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Personal Injury Law Journal: December 2012/January 2013

Janet Sayers discusses the most significant cases of the last year

This last year or so has seen a number of significant case law developments in the clinical negligence arena. I set out some of the main highlights below.

Dr Jock Mackenzie and Richard Lodge provide their annual update on interim payments and the Eeles principles

In the third of our annual updates on the post-Eeles landscape, it is apparent that the courts and practitioners continue to grapple with complex issues thrown up by large interim payment applications. In the text that follows, we summarise the seven cases reported since May 2011 in chronological order and identify some practical implications of these decisions.


John Plunkett advises that failure to have an effective retainer in place could be fatal

I refer to the currently unreported costs case of Charleston v Southampton City Council [2012], in which Wansbroughs were instructed on behalf of the defendant. In this case, District Judge Powell, sitting in Southampton County Court, held that the claimant’s solicitors had breached the indemnity principle on more than one occasion and struck out the claimant’s bill of costs in its entirety (some £46,116.70), finding that all three grounds needed to strike out a case, as set out within CPR 3.4, had been met.

Anna Macey examines The Catholic Child Welfare Society v Various Claimants (FC) and The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools [2012]

The Supreme Court has unanimously overruled the High Court and the Court of Appeal to hold that in conjoined claims alleging sexual and physical abuse, The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the Institute), which placed brothers in a school, was also vicariously liable for the abuse that took place, alongside the Catholic Child Welfare Society that had responsibility for managing the school.

Paul Jones looks at the latest decision of Loizou v Gordon

Fixed costs: the concept seems so simple. At the conclusion of a case, the costs payable are calculated by reference to clearly defined rules and not left to such vague terms such as ‘reasonable’ or ‘proportionate’ costs. However, it doesn’t always work out that way and, as we await the death of recoverable success fees next April, the case law still continues to flow.

Interpretation of the Civil Procedure Rules; meaning of disease

In employer’s liability claims, the classification of an injury is particularly important when it comes to the assessment of costs. Mr Patterson (the appellant), or rather his solicitors and counsel, sought to argue that the non-freezing cold injury (NFCI) he suffered was in fact a disease and therefore, a success fee of 62.5% of his solicitors’ and counsel’s base fees ought to be recoverable on the settlement of his claim against the Ministry of Defence (the respondent). This was significant because, if the claimant’s injury could not be classified as a disease, the recoverable success fee would be only 25%.