The importance of a good Part 36 offer on a case can never be understated. This important principle of litigation was again illustrated in the case of Shah & Anor v Shah & Anor  EWHC 1668 (QB). In this case the Claimant made a Part 36 offer to settle a family dispute for £1.00. The case proceeded to trial and the Claimants succeeded and were awarded nominal damages of £10.00. As a result, the Claimants were awarded their costs strictly applying the usual Part 36 rules when one has successfully beaten their own offer.
The Defendants appealed the decision and this appeal was rejected. When considering the appeal, the Court considered whether the Claimants’ Part 36 was a genuine offer to settle the claim. They considered the previous case law and noted that only in circumstances where the offers were derisory, an abuse of process or for the whole amount were these to be considered not genuine Part 36 offers. When considering the offer of £1 the Court noted that the Claimant had made a concession in light of the value claimed.
Finally, the Court considered whether it would be ‘unjust’ to the Defendants to award the benefits of Part 36. The Court considered the nature that the claim was brought and that both sides had been intent of succeeding on a hard-fought point of liability. The Court noted that the Claimant was prepared to settle without satisfaction of the money claim whilst the Defendant was ‘unbendable’ and proceeded to litigation at Part 36 risk. The Court concluded that, in the circumstances, applying the Part 36 benefits did not amount to injustice.
It is therefore always important to consider making good early Part 36 offers if you want to be able to reap the benefits set out in CPR 36.17(4).
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