MISTAKES IN THE PORTAL: “ROUGH JUSTICE” AND ERRORS IN OFFERS: CLAIMANT’S CLAIM STRUCK OUT AS AN ABUSE OF PROCESS

I am grateful to barrister Matthew Turner for bringing my attention to his report of the case of Mahoney v Royal Mail (DDJ Doman, Truro CC, 26/05/20) it is another example of mistakes being made in offers. In this case the portal.

 

THE CASE

The claimant made an offer in the portal for £5,750 for general damages. The defendant responded with an offer of £4,000.

At this stage the claimant meant to make a counter-offer of £5,500.  However due to an error made an offer of £550.00.  The defendant immediately accepted the offer and made payment of the sum by BACS transfer.

The claimant attempted to withdraw the offer, the defendant contended that the matter had been resolved.

THE ISSUE OF PROCEEDINGS

The claimant issued Part 7 proceedings and the defendant applied to strike those out on the grounds that the claimant had no reasonable grounds for bringing proceedings.

THE STRIKING OUT OF THE CLAIM

The judge struck out the claimant’s claim.  It was held that the common law doctrine of mistake does not apply to portal claims.    The issue is discussed in Matthew’s article on the subject here. 

“First, the Judge considered that it did not matter whether the Defendant was aware that the Claimant had made a mistake. He stated that it was nevertheless entitled to accept the offer under the auspices of the Portal scheme.
Second, he held that in deciding whether the doctrine of mistake was excluded, the magnitude of the mistake is “neither here nor there”. The common law was either excluded or it was not. Even in cases where the mistake is more stark (for example, an offer of £25,000.00 that was meant to be £25.00), to apply the doctrine of mistake would lead to disproportionate satellite litigation. This is because the cost of rectifying the error – i.e. issuing proceedings – will likely exceed the cost of the mistake.”