Summary of Recent Cases – Civil Procedure

No error in judge’s decision to refuse to admit new expert evidence where there had already been a joint experts’ report.
Cecil Guntrip v Cheney Coaches Ltd [2012] EWCA Civ 392, 14/03/12
The Court accepted that a DJ had been correct in refusing the C permission to rely on a new expert report on the eve of trial and where a joint expert report had already been prepared and the C’s expert had appeared to change his opinion in favour of the D. It was held that in the context of trial management it was good if an expert changed his opinion sooner rather than later. Expert shopping was not to be encouraged. The DJ had correctly thought about both parties when refusing the initial application and was mindful of the delays incurs and the costs consequences that would ensue were the C granted permission to rely on a further report. Though a circuit judge had overturned the DJ’s decision on the basis that if he did not do so the C’s case would effectively fail, this did not mean the DJ’s decision had been wrong.

It was not appropriate to grant a late application for non-party disclosure in proceedings for committal
Sandhu v Sidhu, Ch D, 14/03/12
It was held that a committal application alleging a false statement of truth was alleging a public as opposed to a private wrong and that there should be rigorous control of the conduct of such proceedings brought in the public interest. If the application were to be granted there was a high likelihood that there would be a further adjournment of the trial. It was not right that proceedings in the public interest should be conducted in such a way as to produce material at the last minute where a respondent was facing the threat of imprisonment.

A judge had failed to give adequate reasons for his decision that the owner of a livery yard was responsible for a groom’s injury in a riding accident and therefore the judgment could not stand
Marta Olszewska Kozlowska v Judi Thurloe (T/A Judi Thurloe Sports Horses), CA (Civ Div), 01/03/12
Judges were required to give sufficient reasons to enable a losing party to understand why they had lost and to enable an appellate court to judge whether the conclusion was rational. The D had no idea why her evidence and of her supporting witnesses had been rejected, and the instant court was not able to assess whether the reasons the judge had were rational. The judgment was deficient in that the judge’s decisions on several important matters were not adequately explained. The duty to give reasons was not intended to be a heavy burden on a judge. However, where the evidence on a particular issue contained several strands, it might be necessary to mention them and explain why, even though more than one witness or document supported a contention, the judge was rejecting it. The need for explanation would be more obvious where, as in the instant case, the judge accepted parts of the evidence of a witness but rejected others. Where an account in an apparently contemporaneous document was to be rejected, it would usually be necessary to deal with it.

Claims brought by servicemen who alleged that they had suffered personal injuries as a result of exposure to radiation during nuclear tests carried out by the MOD were time-barred under the Limitation Act 1980. By the time a C issued proceedings he had, in law, to have the knowledge required by s.14(1)(b) of the Act. It was a legal impossibility for a C to lack such knowledge after he had issued proceedings.
AB & Others v Ministry of Defence, [2012] UKSC 9, 14/03/12
By the time a C issued proceedings he had, pursuant to s.14(1)(b), to have knowledge of the fact that his injuries were attributable to the D’s negligence, nuisance, or breach of duty. It was a legal impossibility for a C to lack such knowledge after he had issued proceedings. The statement of truth could be regarded as an explicit recognition by the C that he had knowledge that his injuries were attributable to the D. It was clear that the inquiry mandated by s.14(1) was retrospective and was aimed at discovering whether the C first had the requisite knowledge within the three years prior to the date of issue. It was heretical to assert that a C could escape the time bar by establishing that, even after his claim had been issued, he remained in a state of ignorance as to whether his injuries were attributable to the D. In any event, the claims had no real prospect of success and it would have been absurd for the CA to have exercised its discretion under s.33 so as to allow them to proceed.

May 1, 2012 В· Editorial Team В· Comments Closed
Posted in: Cases