WITNESS STATEMENT SERVED 28 DAYS LATE: RELIEF FROM SANCTIONS REFUSED: ACTION STRUCK OUT: THE PERILS OF DELIBERATELY NOT COMPLYING WITH DIRECTIONS
I am grateful to barrister Andrew Worthley for drawing my attention to, and sending me a note of the decision in Syed -v- Shah  2 WLUK 15 where Trower J upheld a decision not to grant a claimant relief from sanctions when witness statements were served late. One interesting aspect of this case is that late service was due to a deliberate decision on the part of the claimant.
The claimant brought an action seeking a declaration that she was the beneficial owner of a property.
- Witness statements were ordered to be exchanged by 29th March 2019 with a four day trial to take place between June and August 2019.
- The claimant served her witness evidence 28 days late.
- The judge refused to grant relief from sanctions.
- That decision was upheld on appeal by Trower J.
POINTS TO NOTE
This was not a case of incompetence or inadvertence by the claimant not to serve evidence on time. It was a deliberate decision taken in the hope that the defendant would settle.
The claimant had then benefited from being able to scrutinise the defendant’s witness statements and tailor her evidence accordingly.
This was a case where a refusal to grant relief from sanctions effectively ended the case. However Trower J held that the judge at first instance had applied the Denton principles appropriately and made a robust decision that he was entitled to make.