17 Jan, 2020
Bateman v Devon County Council (HHJ Mitchell, Plymouth County Court, 2nd September 2019) decided an important issue relating to fixed costs, which will no doubt have an impact on a number of claims up and down the country. James acted for the successful Claimant.
The facts were that the Claimant was injured whilst riding his motorcycle along a Highway for which the Defendant was responsible. The reason for the fall was that he drove over a pothole in the road. The matter settled for £800.
Should fixed costs apply to such a claim? The Claimant argued that on a proper interpretation of the rules the answer was no. Costs should be assessed. The Defendant submitted that the protocols should be read more purposively, and to do otherwise would lead to an absurd result.
Having begun by way of provisional assessment, and then having continued to oral review, it was decided that the matter should be tried as a preliminary issue before the DCJ in Plymouth - HHJ Mitchell.
HHJ Mitchell adopted the Claimant’s submissions, applying the cases of Quader v Esure  EWCA Civ 1109 and Inco Europe Limited v First Choice Distribution  1 WLR 586. Costs were therefore to be assessed.
Seeing as there are no doubt a not insignificant number of claims where Claimants are in a similar position to Mr. Bateman, Bateman v Devon County Council stands as a persuasive authority that costs should be assessed.