Success for Chris Richards in civil appeal

February 17, 2020

Chris Richards from Exchange Chambers has successfully appealed the decision of a Deputy District Judge to allocate a professional negligence claim to the small-claims track.

The Claimant had brought a professional negligence claim against his former solicitors. The Deputy District Judge had been asked to decide whether to allocate the claim to the small-claims track (which is designed for less complex cases and involves limited costs recovery) or the fast-track (which is designed for more complex cases and involves much greater costs recovery). The Deputy District Judge decided to allocate the claim to the small-claims track. An application was made for leave to appeal, which was refused by the Deputy District Judge.

Chris renewed the application for leave to appeal. The application was considered on the papers by a Circuit Judge. Chris submitted in his skeleton argument that the complexity of the claim meant that the claim should have been allocated to the fast-track. The Circuit Judge said that there was a real prospect of success and granted leave to appeal.

The appeal was then heard by HHJ Wood QC in Liverpool County Court. The Defendant resisted the appeal and instructed senior counsel to attend. After lengthy submissions, HHJ Wood QC allowed the appeal and allocated the claim to the fast-track.

The appeal involved a direct challenge to the exercise of the discretion by the Judge at first instance. These are (in the author’s view) some of the most difficult appeals to pursue. The appeal must show that the decision made by the Judge at first instance was one that no reasonable tribunal could have made.

Chris Richards is a member of the personal injury department at Exchange Chambers, and was instructed by Irvings Law.