Court of Appeal gets tough on compliance failures

29 November 2013
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Category: Blog
29 November 2013, Comments: 0

The Court of Appeal has dismissed an appeal by MP Andrew Mitchell’s lawyers (within the libel action against The Sun newspaper arising from the infamous “Plebgate” affair) against a decision that, because they had failed to file their costs budget on time, they would be unable to recover any further costs for pursuing the claim, beyond court fees.

In so doing the court has made it clear that a new, much more robust approach should be taken to applications for relief from sanctions imposed for failure to comply with court rules or orders.  Relief will usually only be granted  if the breach can properly be regarded as trivial, the application for relief is made promptly and there is a very good reason for the breach (examples given were illness or accident – i.e. something outside the control of the party or its lawyer).

The court also made it clear that the wider interests of achieving public justice, which in turn requires claims to be run proportionately, trumps the achievement of justice in individual cases.

This case has major implications for the way in which litigation is conducted in the future.

Mitchell –v- News Group Newspapers [2013] Court of Appeal, 27 November 2013

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