Case Update: CofA considers CPR 3.9 relief from sanction

Mitchell v News Group Newspaper [2013] EWCA Civ 1537

We have all been aware that since the Jackson reforms CPR 3.9, relief from sanction, has been amended considerably. For the first time since the amendments the issue has been considered by the Court of Appeal thereby setting judicial precedent for future cases.

The Law Gazette has reported that the Claimant’s solicitors do not intend to take the matter to the Supreme Court therefore this seems to be the final judgment on the point in this case. The Gazette article quoted Atkins Thomson Partner to have said this is because the matter is regarding a procedural issue rather than a point of law.

A bit of background…

Mr. Andrew Mitchell brought a libel action against the Sun newspaper in relation to their reporting of the ‘plebgate’ scandal.

During the litigation the Claimant’s solicitors failed to file a costs budget 7 days before the first case management conference in accordance with CPR 3.13 and instead filed their £500,000 budget 1 day prior.

As a consequence the Claimant’s solicitors were disallowed apart from recoverable court fees. This was despite no prejudice being caused to the Defendant.

The case was fast tracked to the Court of Appeal in order to provide the lower courts with guidance when interpreting the new CPR 3.9. The CofA refused relief from sanction with a particular emphasis being placed on the need for compliance with court directions.

The position is now unequivocally clear - All directions, court orders and CPR must be complied with.

It is clear from Mitchell that if it becomes apparent that it will not be possible to comply with an order or directions an application must be made to vary the order before the deadline expires.

Even in the short time since this Judgment has been handed down Rushton Hinchy has noticed that Defendant solicitors have been less willing to grant extensions.

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