Zaman v Paradise UK Ltd 11.12.2014 QBD (unreported)
This was an appeal from a master’s decision to strike out a personal injury claim where liability had been admitted for a number of years and the claimant was always going to be entitled to some damages, albeit modest.
Judge Seymour QC, hearing the appeal in the QBD, commented that it was a ‘bold thing for the master to have struck out proceedings’ in the above mentioned circumstances but the master’s decision was ‘not outside the acceptable range’. read more below
In 2007, the Claimant was employed by the Defendant as a waiter and was injured at work. He sustained a concussion, a fracture and psychiatric harm consisting of PTSD. Liability was admitted early on but quantum was not agreed and proceedings were issued claiming over £100,000.
Following a defence which was filed in 2010 admitting liability, judgment was entered and the matter set down for an assessment of damages hearing. The Defendant however claimed that the Claimant was exaggerating his injuries and in particular his loss of earnings claim. Video surveillance was obtained. (This is perhaps the reason it was thought damages were going to be modest in any event)
Despite directions having been given for trial in 2011 and 2012, proceedings became protracted due to a catalogue of errors on the Claimant’s or his solicitors’ part:
- There had been non-compliance by the Claimant with orders resulting in the Defendant having to apply for unless orders and stays for compliance to take place;
- The Claimant then had to apply to set aside the stays in order to comply with the orders.
The Defendant then applied for strike out of the claim based on abuse of process, delay, dishonest exaggeration and non-compliance. The master hearing that application granted it and struck out the claim on the grounds of extended non-compliance and the Claimant’s failure to take necessary steps to bring the case to trial.
The master did not think there had been dishonest exaggeration though.
On appeal it was argued that the master was wrong in finding that the delay in bringing the matter to trial was caused by the Claimant or his solicitors and that insufficient reasons were given.
Judge Seymour QC agreed that the decision of the master could have been expressed better but ultimately it was clear from the history/chronology of litigation that the Claimant had been warned a number of times that if he did not comply with orders the Defendant would seek to strike out the claim and these signals had been ‘conspicuously ignored’.