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Thousands of claimants are able to issue claims on the same claim form: Abbot v Ministry of Defence [2023] EWHC 1475 (KB) - Anisa Kassamali, Temple Garden Chambers

30/06/23. The Divisional Court considered whether 3,450 claims issued on a single claim form were permitted to proceed.

Proceedings were commenced against the Ministry of Defence (the “MoD”) on behalf of 3,559 individuals. The claim form stated that the claim was brought on behalf of David Abbott, whose name and address were given on the first page of the claim form, and 3,558 others, whose names and addresses were set out in a schedule attached to and forming part of the claim form.

It was held at first instance by Master Davison that this was not permissible. It was directed that the appeal against that Order should be heard by a Divisional Court given the potential importance of the appeal for the meaning and effect of CPR rr. 7.3 and 19.1.


The Court of Appeal observed from the outset that the appeal turned principally on CPR r.7.3 and that there was little in dispute in relation to CPR r.19.1. CPR r.7.3 provides that a claimant may use a single claim form to start all claims which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings.

Andrew Baker J explained at [71] that he agreed in substance with the analysis put forward by the Claimants’ counsel:

“71. The question here was not whether the full cohort of 3,000+ M-NIHL claims

encompassed by the omnibus claim form, as amended, could be tried at a single trial

hearing; it was whether that cohort of claims had sufficient commonality of significant

issues of fact that it would be useful or helpful, in the interests of justice, that any

determination of those issues in proceedings brought by any one of the claimants

against the MoD in respect of their M-NIHL injury claim would be binding also as

between the MoD and any other of the claimants in respect of their such claim. I thus

agree in substance with the analysis put forward by Mr Steinberg KC (see paragraph 12


(i) CPR 19.1 provides that any number of claimants (or defendants) may be joined

as parties to a claim, i.e. to a set of proceedings commenced by a single claim

form under CPR Part 7 (or equivalent).

(ii) The CPR therefore provide no absolute limit on the number of claimants on a

single claim form. Weight of numbers, without more, is not relevant to whether

it is proper to use a single claim form.

(iii) The qualification to that is CPR 7.3 and its test of convenience. A single claim

form should only be used to start multiple claims (in the cause of action sense)

“which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings”. As White

Book n.7.3.5 says, that is the sole test stated by CPR 7.3, and “In terms neither

the rule nor its related practice direction provides any further test.”

(iv) The governing principle, therefore, is not whether there is a large number of

claimants and/or causes of action. Rather, it is the convenience of disposing of

the issues arising between the parties in a single set of proceedings. The degree

of commonality between the causes of action, including as part of that the

significance for each individual claim of any common issues of fact or law, will

generally be the most important factor in determining whether it would, or

would not, be convenient to dispose of them all in a single set of proceedings.”

In so determining, the Divisional Court maintained the use of the omnibus claim form in this particular group litigation. It is an oft-used approach in such cases. As Dingemans LJ’s concurring judgment highlighted, the question of whether individual claims give rise to common issues of law and fact remains a fact-specific one.

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