THE COURT CANNOT EXTEND TIME FOR ACCEPTANCE OF A PART 36 OFFER: HIGH COURT DECISION
A defendant is entitled to make an early Part 36 offer. This, undoubtedly causes difficulties for many claimants. The rules relating to late acceptance are fairly unsympathetic. Nor is it possible to for a claimant to make a prospective application to extend time for acceptance without the usual cost penalties. In Begum -v- Barts Health NHS Trust  EWHC 1668 (QB) Master Thornett rejected an argument that the court had any power to extend time for the acceptance of a Part 36 offer.
“There already exists provision at CPR 36.12(4) for the court to decide costs upon the acceptance of an offer after expiration of the “relevant period”, as the above cases illustrate. The Claimant’s proposition that there exists an additional facility for the court to make a similar decision but on a pre-emptive basis is, at face value, a surprising and seemingly unfair one.”
WEBINAR: WHAT DO YOU DO IF THE DEFENDANT MAKES AN EARLY PART 36 OFFER?
I have prepared a webinar on “What do you do if the defendant makes an early Part 36 offer” which deals with the difficulties claimants face when a Part 36 offer is made at an early stage. It is available on demand up to the 8th January 2023, booking details are available here.
The claimant, a protected party, brought an action for clinical negligence against the defendant. Liability was admitted but causation denied. The defendant made a Part 36 offer £100,000.
The claimant stated that it was impossible to quantify the case and requested an extension of the time for acceptance. The defendant refused to extend time but stated that the offer was still open for acceptance.
THE CLAIMANT’S APPLICATION
The claimant applied to the court for an order extending time for acceptance of the offer without the normal costs penalties.
THE MASTER’S DECISION
Master Thornett refused the Claimant’s application.
NO POWER UNDER PART 36 TO MAKE THE ORDER SOUGHT
The Master found that there was nothing in Part 36 that allowed such an order to be made.
10. I am not satisfied there is any inherent provision in Part 36 for the court to vary or rewrite the period for acceptance of a Part 36 offer. If there is no such procedure, it follows that neither (at least within Part 36) can there be provision for the court to direct in advance the costs consequences of accepting an offer as rewritten by it.
NO POWER ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE RULES
Nor could the power be extrapolated from CPR 3.1(2)(a)