Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED March 10, 2003

Nothing in the general law or the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 SI 1998/3132 prevented insurers agreeing to abide by the court's decision as to liability in relation to a claim only to recover the excess of ?125 from the defendant.Appeal by the claimant ('K') from an order of District Judge Stephenson dismissing his application to set aside an order striking out the claim on the ground that the amended particulars of claim did not reflect the claim's full value. After a road traffic accident in March 2000 K's vehicle had had to be repaired at a cost of £755.89. The cost had been paid by insurers apart from an excess of £125. The parties' insurers had entered into a memorandum of understanding in which they had agreed to abide by the court's decision as to liability in relation to K's claim to recover the excess from the defendant. K's insurer had issued a claim form against the defendant for £155.73 comprising the excess and miscellaneous expenses. The district judge had ordered K to file and serve amended particulars of claim reflecting "the true value" of the claim, meaning the full cost of the vehicle repairs, and that in default the claim be struck out. K maintained the claim to recover the excess only and stated that the claim for the repairs had been kept out of the proceedings in order to keep costs to a minimum. The district judge struck out the claim on the basis that the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 SI 1998/3132 did not enable litigants to understate their claims by agreement in order to minimise costs. The appeal against the judge's order was transferred to the Court of Appeal.HELD: (1) There was nothing in the general law or in the Civil Procedure Rules which positively obliged a claimant to include in his pleaded case all the claims which he could arguably advance against a defendant. (2) CPR 16.3, referring to "the amount of money which he is claiming", supported the view that the amount claimed by a claimant was limited for the purposes of the rules to what was in the claim form. (3) The court did not have power under CPR 26.8 to increase the value of a claim or to include items of claim which the claimant had chosen not to include. There was nothing in the rules that justified the district judge's decision to order K to increase his claim to include the repair costs. (4) Nor was there any reason to distinguish between subrogated and non-subrogated claims. (5) There was nothing objectionable in what the parties had done in this case. It was not part of the judicial function to force a claimant to claim more than he desired to maximise court fees. (6) If the issue of liability was complex and not suitable for the small claims track, then it would be open to the court to allocate it to a different track. The claim would be reinstated.Appeal allowed.

[2003] EWCA Civ 358