Case Law Update: Denton and others v TH White Ltd

Case Law Update: Denton and others v TH White Ltd and another; Decadent Vapours Ltd v Bevan and others; Utilise TDS Ltd v Davies and others [2014] EWCA Civ 906, [2014] ALL ER (D) 53 (Jul)

The Court of Appeal has unanimously agreed that all three of the above appeals, in which one or other party had sought relief from sanctions pursuant to CPR 3.9, should be allowed.

The Judgment introduces a three stage test to be applied by the Courts when determining a relief from sanctions application:

  1. The first stage is to identify and assess the seriousness and significance of the “failure to comply with any rule, practice direction or court order” which engages CPR 3.9(1).

  • This is instead of the triviality criteria referred to in Mitchell

  • If the breach was neither serious nor significant, relief is likely to be granted and the Court is unlikely to need to spend much time on the second and third stages.

  • If it is decided that the breach was serious or significant, then the second and third stages assume greater importance.

  1. The second stage is to consider why the default occurred.

  • The examples of good and bad reasons given at para 41 of Mitchell are no more than examples

  1. The third stage is to evaluate all of the circumstances of the case so as to enable the Court to deal justly with the application including CPR 3.9 (a) and (b)

It is hoped that this Judgment will reduce the need for satellite litigation and increase compliance. It was also suggested that respondents who unreasonably oppose relief applications should face heavy cost consequences.

Alexandra Banks

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