COST BITES 19: JUDGE EXERCISES DISCRETION TO ALLOW CLAIMANT QOCS PROTECTION IN A “MIXED” CLAIM
In Wokingham Borough Council v Arshad  EWHC 2419 (KB) Mr Justice Bourne considered whether QOCS protection should be applied to a claimant who had brought a claim for personal injury damages, in addition to other claims. The judge held it was appropriate to use his discretion so that QOCS applied.
The claimant wished to work as a taxi driver. He contacted the defendant which was responsible for licensing to see whether the vehicle he proposed to purchase was suitable. He and was told that the vehicle he planned to buy was suitable and purchased it. The defendant then inspected the vehicle and was not told it was suitable and could not be used. The claimant successfully complained to the Local Government Ombudsman which found that the defendant was at fault because it gave incorrect information. The matter led to the council reviewing its policy and looking at other similar vehicles already in use.
The claimant stopped work as a taxi driver and, acting largely as a litigant in person, brought an action for damages. His case was that the loss of his licence and consequential loss of livelihood and status brought about a Depressive Disorder. He alleged:
- Discrimination on the grounds of race or religion;
- Negligence (in the provision of advice that the Ford Galaxy would be an appropriate vehicle);
3. Breach of duty (in the carrying out by the Council of their statutory duties relating to hackney carriage licensing).
THE CLAIMANT’S SUCCESS AT TRIAL
The claimant succeeded at trial in relation to the negligence claim. . Damages of £42,500 were awarded in relation to the personal injury claim. The judge ordered the defendant to pay costs of £6,720 to the claimant. She did not order that the claimant pay the defendant’s costs on the unsuccessful elements of the claim.
THE DEFENDANT’S SUCCESSFUL APPEAL
The defendant successfully appealed the action. Mr Justice Bourne held that a duty of care was owed but that the injuries were not reasonably foreseeable.
COSTS OF THE ACTION AND QOCS
The defendant being successful in the appeal the issue arose as to the extent to which QOCS applied. The claim had included non-personal injury elements so QOCS did not apply automatically. Rather it was a matter for the court’s discretion. The judge held it was appropriate to exercise that discretion to give the claimant QOCS protection.