Amendments to civil procedure rules

The latest amendments include a new section of Part 45, which makes provision for personal injury claims against employers relating to a disease. The section makes provision for fixed percentage increases to apply to success fees (this has already been reported in the August Law Bulletin). The new section comes into force on 1 October 2005.

In addition, there is a new Rule 21.11A that allows a litigation friend to recover reasonable expenses out of the child’s or patient’s funds. This also comes into force on 1 October. Consequential amendments are made to Rule 48.5 to capture, for the purposes of assessment, costs payable to the litigation friend and solicitor, as well as costs payable out of the child’s or patient’s funds.

Pre-action disclosure applications

We have previously considered what action might be taken in circumstances where an order for pre-action disclosure is made but the defendants ignore it. In a recent Liverpool office case, the claimant was an ambulance technician for Merseyside Regional Ambulance NHS Trust and was assisting in the transfer of a female patient weighing more than 28 stone. She injured her neck and lower back.

An order was granted for pre-action disclosure, which the defendants failed to comply with. A further application was made to the court applying for an order debarring the defendants from defending any claims for damages issued by the claimant arising out of the accident unless they complied with the earlier pre-action disclosure order within 14 days. The court granted the order to debar, which the defendants also failed to comply with. Proceedings were subsequently issued and served on the defendants. They instructed solicitors to deal with the claim and an Acknowledgement of Service was filed but no defence was served. We applied for judgment to be entered; the defendant’s solicitors accepted they were debarred from defending the claim and acknowledged that they had no grounds to contest the application.

We have previously reported a Newcastle case where a similar order was obtained. The alternative solution is that recommended in the December 2004 Bulletin, of seeking an order for a company secretary to attend court.

Evans -v- Mersey Regional Ambulance NHS Trust.