SANCTIONS JUDGMENT 3: THE INDIVIDUAL CASES: DENTON – DON'T MILK SANCTIONS ARGUMENTS?
The previous posts looked at the general principles the Court of Appeal considered. Here we look at the practical results in the three cases.
Denton was a case about an allegedly defective milking parlour. The trial was set to start in January 2014. At a very late stage, late November and early December 2013, the claimant served six additional witness statements. At a pre-trial review in December 2013 the judge granted relief from sanctions and allowed the claimants to rely upon the six additional witness statements. The trial was adjourned.
DEFENDANT’S APPEAL ALLOWED: RELIEF FROM SANCTIONS REFUSED
The Court of Appeal was clear in its view that the judge’s decision to grant relief was clearly wrong.
1. This was a significant breach, it caused the trial date to be vacated and therefore disrupted the conduct of the litigation.
2. There was no good reason for the breach.
3. The judge should have gone to consider all the circumstances of teh case. He had to give weight to factors (a) and (b) in CPR 3.9.
4. Both of these militated strongly in favour of refusal. The delay was a most serious and significant breach of the court’s earlier orders for the exchange of witness statements which impacted upon the orderly progress of the case.
5. The claimants had had ample opportunity to serve their evidence long before December 2013.
6. It was the claimant’s own fault they had chosen not to serve such evidence earlier.
7. The adjournment led to the protraction of proceedings which had already gone on too long.
8. It caused a waste of court resources and generated substantial extra costs.
9. It caused inconvenience to a large number of busy people who had carved out space in their diaries.
The third stage analysis weighed heavily in favour of refusing relief from sanctions. The action was listed for trial at the earliest practicable date.