The Court of Appeal has departed from the general rule that when an offer of settlement is rejected by a claimant and the offer exceeds the damages awarded by the court, the legal costs of both sides after the point at which the offer was rejected are borne by the claimant.
The claim was made on behalf of a boy who suffered brain damage in an accident when he was six years old. Because of difficulties putting a 'definitive value' on his claim, the offer made by the firm representing the defendant was not accepted. The problem was that the claimant was still too young for final conclusions to be drawn on the appropriate value of the compensation award.
Taking account of all the circumstances, the Court set aside the order of the judge that the claimant should bear the costs after the offer had been made. The Court considered that it would be unjust to make the boy responsible for the legal costs bearing in mind that the reason for the refusal of the offer was uncertainty rather than an attempt to 'advance his position'.