Jack Macaulay successfully defeats novel limitation argument
A recent TCC decision provides clarity that a claim issued in time will not subsequently become time-barred if an amendment to the claim form, after expiry of the limitation period, requires that a higher court fee be paid.
On 21st July 2016 the TCC (Roger ter Haar QC, sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) handed down judgment on the Claimant’s application to amend the claim form so as to increase the value of the claim, after the expiry of the limitation period. The Defendant had objected to the amendment, arguing that the proposed increase in the value of the claim meant that the Claimant had not paid the correct court fee when the claim was issued, and thus had not “brought” the claim for limitation purposes.
The Court of Appeal has repeatedly held that, provided a claimant delivers his claim to the court office for issue in time, accompanied by the correct fee, it will still be “brought” in time even if the claim form is not actually issued by the court until after the expiry of the limitation period. In Page v Hewetts and Lewis v Ward Hadaway claimants who had not proffered the correct fee, whether through inadvertence or cynicism, were unable to take advantage of that principle. In opposing the amendment the Defendant relied on these cases, and sought to extend that “hard edged” principle to a claim which was prima facie issued in time, but which could, with reasonable diligence, have been issued for the higher amount at the outset, thus attracting a higher fee than was actually paid. Mr ter Haar QC held that the first instance cases should be confined to the circumstances expressly considered in them, and they were not relevant to the amendment of a claim issued in time. As the proposed amendment created no prejudice to the Defendant it was allowed.