Yesss (A) Ltd v Warren [2024]

This recent judgment by the Court of Appeal marks yet another critical milestone in the ongoing dialogue about relief from sanctions. The court clarified that a belated request to incorporate expert evidence in a personal injury case that doesn’t risk postponing the trial, does not necessitate relief from sanctions, hence the Denton criteria do not apply.

Yesss (A) Ltd v Warren  the appeal stemmed from a workplace injury claim by Mr Warren against his employer, Yesss (A) Ltd, in the sum of £140,000. The claim included allegations of fundamental dishonesty by the defendant regarding claimed care costs. During the evidence gathering, the need for a pain management expert’s opinion was identified, yet no formal permission for such evidence had been requested or granted.  Due to a mix-up the court failed to take into account an expert’s availability.

An application was made to vacate the hearing and apply for leave to rely upon further expert evidence.  Both applications were granted.  The decision was upheld upon appeal, leading to a further challenge in the Court of Appeal due to conflicting High Court positions on such procedural matters.

Court of Appeal’s Decision

The Court dismissed the appeal by the employer highlighting the confusion stemming from a recent shift towards stricter compliance with procedural rules. Lord Justice Birss elaborated that the relief from sanctions regime, guided by the overriding objective of efficient litigation conduct, demands clear identification of any breached rules, orders, or directions.

The court considered the Judgement by Stewart J in T (A Child) v Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust [2020] and CPR 35.4, where permission of the court is required to introduced expert evidence.  A very important distinction here was that there was no sanction express or implied for leave. It was the court’s permission that was needed.  The court’s permission would be dependent upon how prompt the application was made especially if a trial date was fixed and if that hearing was at risk of being adjourned by the introduction of further expert evidence. 

The absence of a specific breach or express sanction, particularly concerning expert evidence, means the Denton guidelines are not triggered. The Court maintained that needing permission for certain actions does not inherently imply a sanction for non-compliance. Given the specific circumstances, including the trial’s rescheduling, the Court of Appeal supported the lower courts’ decisions, viewing them as aligned with the overriding objective’s proper interpretation. Mr. Warren’s position was thus upheld, benefiting from the concurrent application to vacate the trial.

A more detailed summary of this important case can be found at Deka Chambers.

No Win, No Fee, No Worry, Compensation Solicitors

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