A circuit judge has ruled that a failure in a portal case to include the same damages figure in the stage 3 court proceedings pack (CPP) as in the stage 2 settlement pack form renders the offer void.
According to insurance law firm Kennedys, which acted for the defendant insurer Matloob v EUI, the decision of His Honour Judge Murdoch in Birmingham “fills a void left within the CPR and MoJ protocol”.
When completing part B of the CPP, the claimant’s solicitor amended the claimant’s offer to reflect a revised position in respect of physiotherapy treatment, meaning that it no longer reflected the final offer at stage 2.
The insurer objected to the amendment on the basis that the part B form must only contain offers that have been communicated on the stage 2 settlement pack form, and requested a revised pack be provided.
The matter proceeded to a stage 3 oral hearing without one. Deputy District Judge Singh awarded the claimant damages and an additional punitive uplift, having beaten the part B offer.
On appeal, the defendant argued that the amended figure meant it was not a valid protocol offer and so ought to be treated as void for the purposes of rule 36.29. HHJ Murdoch agreed and set the deputy district judge’s order aside.
In a commentary, Kennedys said: “Clarification provided by HHJ Murdoch fills a void left within the CPR and protocol and serves to provide defendant’s with an added layer of protection to combat increasing non-compliance with the protocol.
“The protocol was introduced to provide a quick and simple system for the processing of low-value claims for personal injury and this judgment provides a clear reminder of the court’s approach when faced with situations where there is a departure from the ethos of those rules.
“This decision is a valuable addition to the growing body of case law to ensure that defendant insurers have the tools available to ensure that they are afforded a fair hearing and that any non-compliance is robustly defended.”