'Unrealistic' stance complicates mediation

The claim (pleaded at £87.8m) was brought by the trustees of the Malmesbury Estate (the claimants) a...

The claim (pleaded at £87.8m) was brought by the trustees of the Malmesbury Estate (the claimants) against Strutt and Parker (the defendant) for negligence in connection with leases and car parks at Bournemouth International Airport. Mediation was attempted but unsuccessful. The claimants succeeded on some aspects of their case and were awarded £915 139.

However, the defendant argued that, in respect to costs, the claimants should not be treated like 'winners'. They only recovered a small amount of that claimed and the unrealistic claim and position had made the mediation impossible. Costs for all parties were £5.4m.

Mr Justice Jack awarded the defendant its costs and reduced the claimants' costs by 15% to represent the parts of the claim they were successful in. The judge further reduced the claimants' costs due to the exaggerated claim that led to the unreasonable stance at the mediation. The claimants' costs were reduced to 70% in respect of liability issues and 80% in respect of damages.When taking into account the 15% reduction, the claimants' recovered 59.5% of the costs and 85% of the damages.

Comment

In general this case is good news for defendants when faced with exaggerated claims. The judge in the case commented that parties who take an unreasonable stance in mediation were in the same position as a party who had unreasonably refused to mediate. This must be borne in mind in all mediations. - Ben Parks, BLM Manchester


These law reports are contributed by national law firm Berrymans Lace Mawer (www.blm-law.com).

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