The High Court has rejected a defendant’s “novel” bid to join another company as a defendant when the claimant did not agree to it.
Mr Justice Coulson said it would be a “nonsense” to make a claimant potentially liable to another party’s costs against its will.
Milton Keynes BC v Viridor (Community Recycling MK) Limited  EWHC 2764 (TCC) concerns the council’s bid to rectify a contract reached with Viridor to supply waste disposal and recycling services.
At the pre-trial review last month, the defendant applied to join a second company, Viridor Waste Management Limited (VWML) as a second defendant, which the claimant opposed.
Coulson J said: “I do not consider that the court has the power to join a party as a defendant, in circumstances where the claimant opposes that joinder. No authority in support of such a novel proposition was cited to me.”
Reference was made to CPR 19.2(2), which allows the court to add a new party if it is desirable to help resolve the dispute or to a specific issue.
“The proposed joinder of VWML is not caught by either of these provisions. There is no matter in dispute between the council and VWML; indeed, the council has made it plain that, because there is no dispute between it and VWML, it does not wish for VWML to be joined into the proceedings as a defendant. Neither is there any pleaded issue between VWML and the defendant.
“Furthermore, I consider that it would be a nonsense if a defendant could join another defendant into the proceedings against the claimant’s wishes, in circumstances in which that claimant would then become potentially liable for the costs of the new defendant.
“A claimant is entitled to bring proceedings against the parties with whom it considers that it has a dispute. A claimant cannot be forced to issue proceedings against any other party.”