Court considers “cost effective” and “appropriate” way of resolving disputes

14-05-2012 16:30

In a recent case, the Court of Appeal had to decide whether a lower Court was right to strike out a claim that was worth in the region of £50.

The case was a copyright infringement claim and the claim documents stated that the claim was worth £800,000 or thereabouts. The Claimant complained of a video, produced by the Defendant for the Claimant to accompany a music track he had written.  He did not like the finished video so the Defendant took the video down a few days after the complaint.  It is likely that the video had been on YouTube for five days and viewed by less than 100 people.  

The Defendant applied for the Claimant’s claim to be struck out as an abuse of process.  The Claimant succeeded in his claim because the Judge held that even if the Claimant were to succeed, the costs of fighting the claim were so disproportionate to the amount that the Claimant was likely to recover, which he assessed at about approximately £50 compared to the £800,000 that the Claimant claimed.  The Claimant appealed this decision.

The Appeal Court held that if the true value had been recognised at the outset, the claim could have been tried in an appropriate way.  The Court said in future if a Judge is faced with a strike out application in similar circumstances the Judge should “consider carefully whether there is a means by which the claim can be adjudicated without disproportionate expense”.  The Court also said that it must “...consider at the earliest opportunity the most efficient, cost effective, proportionate and fair way of resolving the dispute”.

It is clear from this judgment that the Court must take a pro-active and cost considerate approach at the start of the case.  If the Court thinks that a matter will be dealt with more appropriately in a different Court, it should be transferred at the appropriate time.

If you would like any more information on this issue, please contact Emma Hayward.


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