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21 June 2007 - PI Practitioner

Cole v. Davis-Gilbert (unreported) CA 1st March 2007
The claimant stepped in a hole on a village green, and made a claim against both its occupiers and the company which had previously filled in the hole – it had formerly held a maypole. The judge at first instance found the occupiers not to be liable, on the ground that they reasonably assumed that the hole had been filled. He gave judgment against the company, however, on the basis that it had not filled in the hole adequately; had it done so, the hole would not have reappeared.

The Court of Appeal overturned this decision. The company was not liable, because there was no evidence to suggest that the hole had become exposed because of any failure by it. The occupiers were not liable, and there was a danger in setting too high a standard of care, as doing so could lead to negative consequences.

Santos v. Eaton Square Garage Ltd (unreported) CA 23rd February 2007
Appeal courts only rarely interfere with an award of general damages. In this case, the Court of Appeal was prepared to reduce the claimant’s general damages, because it was wholly erroneous, and it would have been an injustice to require the defendant to pay damages of that magnitude.

Spillman v. Bradfield Riding Centre [2007] EWHC 89 (QB)
The purpose to which an interim payment was to be put had no bearing on the amount that should be awarded. The principles of CPR 25.7(4) required the court to consider the likely amount of the final judgment, a reasonable proportion of that amount, and any other matter it considered material.

The judge at first instance had rejected the claimant’s application for an interim payment, on the basis that it was to be used for the purchase of new accommodation, and he was unable to conclude on the evidence before him that the claim for the cost of provision of accommodation was likely to succeed. This, the Court of Appeal found, was the wrong approach. The purpose of ordering the defendant to pay only a reasonable proportion of the likely award of damages was to protect it against prejudice if the interim payment turned out to be greater than the award at trial. In the instant case, it was appropriate to award 75% of the amount proposed by the defendant as an interim payment. What the claimant used the money for was irrelevant.