A technical knockout: Mohammed Faisal Azam v Ageas Insurance Limited
Weightmans acted for Ageas Insurance in the case of Mohammed Faisal Azam v Ageas Insurance Limited, resulting in a strike out of the claim.
This was a minor road traffic collision where the defendant’s insured collided with the claimant’s taxi on 20 March 2017.
The claimant subsequently brought a modest claim for personal injury. However, it included claims for recovery and storage, vehicle damage and credit hire charges. The hire and storage charges accrued over 356 days, and the vehicle-related damages totalled just under £90,000.00.
The defendant disputed liability at an early stage and accordingly attempts were made by Ageas, unsuccessfully, to obtain clarification from the claimant as to his financial status and exactly why the hire had lasted so long. Clarification was also sought over the capacity in which the vehicle was being used, Ageas contending the claim should have been presented as a loss of profit. No documentation, or evidence of any kind, was presented so Ageas invited the claimant to issue.
Proceedings were issued ‘protectively’ the day limitation expired, with a pleaded value of £3,000; the claimant opted to serve later in accordance with CPR 7.5. Service was effected on 14 August 2020, some 12 days outside of the mandatory four-month period specified.
In addition, the Particulars of Claim and Schedule of Special Damages did not contain a valid Statement of Truth and contained scant information relating to the claim for hire charges, in breach of CPR 16 PD 6.3.
Weightmans filed a Defence reiterating Ageas’ concerns, and made an application to strike out the claim; in the alternative, Weightmans sought to compel the claimant to file a CPR-compliant Particulars of Claim and Schedule of Loss. The application came before DDJ Causton in the Manchester County Court who determined the failure to comply with the deadline for service, and lack of application to extend the deadline, was sufficient to strike out the claim.
The case should act as a cautionary tale to claimants’ solicitors who have not caught up with the recent changes to the Civil Procedure Rules or simply treat those rules as discretionary. In this case, Ageas had fought robustly pre-issue, and Weightmans was alive to the issues ensuring a strong defence and application knocked the claim out in its entirety!
The presentation of credit hire claims has come under the spotlight in recent months. The rules regarding presentation of hire claims in statements of case have been mandated and the recent decision of Diriye v Bojaj & Quick-Sure Insurance Limited show that cases should be advanced properly at an early stage.
In this instance, the claimant’s case was clearly not ready for issue, despite being at the cusp of limitation.