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Judge condemns personal injury lawyers

1 August 2011

A circuit judge has condemned county court “forum shopping” by personal injury lawyers trying to boost costs.

Judge Platt, who said he found it “deeply troubling”, was giving judgment at Romford County Court in GW v BW and T v RP [2011] EW Misc 10 (CC), two cases involving teenagers who suffered minor injuries while travelling in cars as passengers.

In both cases the solicitors claimed counsel’s fees for the hearings because children were involved, even though Judge Platt said the defendants were clearly right in maintaining that these must be “necessarily” rather than “reasonably” incurred.

“There is simply no basis for allowing counsel’s fees for attending the settlement hearing in a straightforward case,” he said.

He went on: “It is apparent from the number of decisions noted above that exactly the same arguments are being presented time and again before different district judges and no matter how many times the arguments are being rejected there is no end in sight.

“This is simply forum shopping by claimant solicitors.”

Judge Platt said that at a time of “huge and increasing pressure” on judicial resources this was a “real and growing” problem and it was time to make it clear that this kind of behaviour was unacceptable.

“The civil procedure rules were not made in order to provide a fruitful source of gainful employment either to solicitors or to the junior Bar,” he said.

“They were made for the just and expeditious disposal of cases in a world of finite resources.”

Judge Platt accepted that none of the judgments on the issue were strictly binding authority but said the degree of unanimity among experienced circuit and district judges was “highly authoritative”, particularly when set against the lack of any contrary decisions at circuit judge level and the few decisions at district judge level in favour of claimants. The judge said these few decisions were wrongly decided.

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Road traffic Pensions