Litigation Recent Decisions 28/10/97

Prolonging litigation puts costs at risk

Sugar v (1) Venables (2) Michael Joseph (1997)

Court: CA (Simon Brown LJ, Schiemann LJ, Robert Walker LJ) 17/10/9Appearances: Michael Beloff QC and Victoria Sharp instructed by Herbert Smith for the appellant. James Price QC instructed by Clifford Chance for the respondent.

Summary: A plaintiff who had prolonged litigation after a payment had been made in the hope of obtaining greater damages had his appeal for costs from the date of the payment into court dismissed.

Plaintiffs appeal from an order of Mr Justice French dated 7 October 1996, set down 10 February 1997. The appellant had brought a libel action against the respondent in respect of allegations of dishonest and/or improper conduct contained within the respondents autobiography. On 6 March 1996 the respondent made a payment into court of u100,001. On 6 September 1996 the matter was effectively settled and leave to accept the payment in after 21 days was not opposed. The judge ordered the costs of the action and the interest accrued on the u100,001 since the date of the payment in to be paid by the appellant to the respondent. He reached this conclusion on the basis that the appellant had been holding out for greater damages and the respondent had been the substantial winner in the action. The appellant contended that on the evidence the conclusion reached was one no reasonable judge could have arrived at.