ON APPEAL FROM THE WILLESDEN COUNTY COURT
HH JUDGE COPLEY
Case No 8WD02675
Strand, London, WC2A 2LL
B e f o r e :
Vice-President of the Court of Appeal, Civil Division
LORD JUSTICE THOMAS
LORD JUSTICE ETHERTON
| Laurence and Sara Seeff
|- and -
|Dinh Nam Ho and Bich Thuy Ton Nu
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Mr David Marshall (instructed by Stringer Smith and Levett) for the Respondents
Hearing date: 26 January 2011
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Lord Justice Thomas:
(a) The properties
(b) Mr and Mrs Ho's plans
"The Party Wall Act 1996 requires a building owner to notify and obtain formal agreement from adjoining owners(s) where the building owner intends to carry out building work which involves:
1. work to an existing wall shared with another property;
2. building on the boundary with a neighbouring property;
3. excavating near a neighbour building, and that work falls within the scope of the Act.
Procedures under this Act are quite separate from the need for planning permission or building regulations approval."
(c) The dispute
(d) The issue of proceedings
"I am open to meet with you to discuss the matter in a civilised manner but it would have to be in the presence of an independent third party who could either record the discussion or take notes. I therefore await your letter of response. "
No response was made by Mr and Mrs Ho to that offer.
(e) The offer made by Mr and Mrs Ho in September 2008
"As you should also be aware from the letter submitted.. on 5 March 2008, I proposed some type of mediation, but this request did not receive a response."
(f) The hearing and the judgment
"The judge has reconsidered the matter of costs and has come to the conclusion that his original view that the claimant should have their costs up to the date of the expiry of the defendant's offer to settle and the claimants should have their costs thereafter in accordance with the general rule. Whilst the offer did not comply fully with the requirements of Part 36 so that the strict consequence of failure by the claimants to obtain a more advantageous judgment did not apply, nevertheless the general rule should apply. If both parties agree it the order can be drawn up accordingly without any further attendance. If either party wishes to have the matter re-listed for further argument they should write to the court no later than 2 November 2009."
The issues on the appeal
(1) What was agreed between parties in the conversation in the early part of 2006?
(2) Revocation and easement of support
i) Although the judge was entitled to reconsider a judgment that had not been perfected by drawing up an order, he could only do so on the basis of the principles set out by May LJ in Robinson v Fernsby  1 WLR 257 and by Wilson LJ in Paulin v Paulin  3 All ER 88. There were no circumstances that justified it on the facts of this case.
ii) The judge was wrong in making an order based on the proposition that Mr and Mrs Seeff had failed to recover more than Mr and Mr Ho's offer of £500 plus court fees, as the offer had made no provision for the costs and expenses of Mr and Mrs Seeff.
Lord Justice Etherton:
Lord Justice Maurice Kay: