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When Experts Let you Down…

Finglands Coachways Limited  O’Hare QBD Case No: 0MA90312

How frustrating it must be to get within shouting distance of a trial, only to find that confident expert suddenly changing their mind.

The above matter arose out of a clear difference between parties as to who went through a red light at a junction. Permission was given for each party to instruct accident reconstruction experts. No doubt the Claimant’s team felt reasonably secure until the expert’s joint meeting. At that point their expert altered his opinion and the joint report supported the Defendant.

As a result 11 days before the trial the Claimant discontinued his claim and the matter came before the Court for detailed assessment of the Defendant’s costs.

A Bill of approximately £60,000 was reduced to £37,803.89 plus interest. The Defendant sought leave to appeal.

The appeal was dismissed on all grounds.

One interesting feature is that although their expert was the primary reason for the success, he did not have his own way in terms of his fees.

As the appeal Judge confirmed;

‘the judge (at first instance) explained the reasoning behind the figures he allowed.  He was not provided with a breakdown or records of the time Mr Sorton (the expert) spent for the reasons I set out earlier.  Since Mr Sorton failed to provide an adequate breakdown of the hours claimed and work done, pursuant to CPR r. 44.4(2)(b) any doubt as to whether his fees were reasonably incurred or were reasonable in amount was to be resolved in the claimants’ favour.’

Thus even a report that was a ‘crucial’ one ‘did not mean it had a higher financial value.’

Success tempered by the reduction of costs, due to the simple failure to provide evidence in support.

The key principle here is be prepared to justify your work by evidence, even where you have achieved success. As costs experts, we at PIC can advise on recovery of all elements of your costs