SCCO Ref: 0504718
SUPREME COURT COSTS OFFICE
London, EC4A 1DQ
B e f o r e :
SITTING AS A DEPUTY DISTRICT JUDGE OF THE WREXHAM COUNTY COURT
| DAVID JAMES BRIERLEY
|- and -
Mr Simon Gibbs (instructed by Morgan Cole) for the Defendant
Hearing date: 13th January 2006
Crown Copyright ©
"Your claim against Hertz UK Limited Car Hire for damages for personal injury suffered on 7 January 2000".
"(j) Lose: the court has dismissed your claim or you have stopped it on our advice.
(l) Win: your claim for damages is finally decided in your favour whether by a court decision or an agreement to pay you damages"
and further provided that "if you win your claim, you pay our basic charges, our disbursements and a success fee."
"… the Claimant has not "won" against Hertz UK Limited but, rather, has "won" against a Mr Jeffrey Prescott, the true and actual defendant in this matter. As such the terms of the CFA between Claimant and solicitor have not been fulfilled in that the Claimant has not succeeded against the person/body named in the CFA. The Defendant therefore contends that the Claimant is in fact therefore, not liable to pay any costs under this CFA and therefore, that by virtue of the indemnity principle, neither is the Defendant".
"Your claim against Hertz UK Limited Car Hire and Mr Jeffrey Prescott for damages for personal injury suffered on 7 January 2000".
(1) under the terms of the 2002 conditional fee agreement is the Claimant liable to pay the costs of Pinto Potts for the work done thereafter; and if not
(2) did the Claimant become liable to pay those costs by reason of the 2005 conditional fee agreement.
The 2002 agreement
"(1) Interpretation is the ascertainment of the meaning which the document would convey to a reasonable person having all the background knowledge which would reasonably have been available to the parties in the situation in which they were at the time of the contract.
(2) The background was famously referred to by Lord Wilberforce as the "matrix of fact", but this phrase is, if anything, an understated description of what the background may include. Subject to the requirement that it should have been reasonably available to the parties and to the exception to be mentioned next, it includes absolutely anything which would have affected the way in which the language of the document would have been understood by a reasonable man.
(3) The law excludes from the admissible background the previous negotiations of the parties and their declarations of subjective intent. They are admissible only in an action for rectification. …
(4) The meaning which a document (or any other utterance) would convey to a reasonable man is not the same thing as the meaning of its words. The meaning of words is a matter of dictionaries and grammars; the meaning of the document is what the parties using those words against the relevant background would reasonably have been understood to mean. The background may not merely enable the reasonable man to choose between the possible meaning of words which are ambiguous but even (as occasionally happens in ordinary life) to conclude that the parties must, for whatever reason, have used the wrong words or syntax: see Mannai Investments Co Ltd v Eagle Star Life Assurance Co Ltd  AC 749.
(5) The "rule" that words should be given their "natural and ordinary meaning" reflects the common sense proposition that we do not easily accept linguistic mistakes, particularly in formal documents. On the other hand, if one would nevertheless conclude from the background that something must have gone wrong with the language, the law does not require judges to attribute to the parties an intention which they plainly could not have had."
"What is covered by this agreement
· Your claim against Hertz UK Limited Car Hire for damages for personal injury suffered on 7 January 2000" ?
The 2005 agreement