James v Ireland  EWHC 1259 (QB) (05 May 2015)
The Defendant appealed a Judgment and Order of Master Campbell where Master Campbell had held that for the purpose of CPR 45.16 and 45.17, the Claimant was entitled to recover a 100% success fee as the trial of an action had commenced. This 100% uplift amounted to around £320,000.
The claim had been listed for 3 days, to start on 8 June 2011. On the first day of the trial the quantum issue was adjourned until after liability had been dealt with. The issue of liability was stood out on the 2nd day, 9 June 2011. The claim then settled before the trial re-started. Master Campbell had held that the liability trial had commenced on 8 June 2011 after the application to adjourn the quantum issue was determined.
The Defendant appealed, arguing that the case was stood out due to further disclosure which only occurred after the quantum trial had been adjourned. Therefore the liability trial had not opened. The Claimant argued that the liability trial had commenced when both parties came into Court at the start of the proceedings on 8 June 2011 before the application to adjourn the hearing of the quantum issue.
The Honourable Mrs. Justice Slade DBE believed there was force in the Defendant’s submissions that due to the additional disclosure, the trial judge had reserved the liability trial to himself was a strong indication that the liability trial had not commenced. Master Campbell had erred in treating the start of a hearing related to the liability issue concerned with when the trial would start as the start of the contested hearing of that issue.
The appeal was therefore allowed, with the reduced success fee of 12.5% applying.