McDermott v Inhealth Limited [2018] EWHC 1835 (QB)



Judge: Lavender J

Citation: [2018] EWHC 1835 (QB)

Summary:

The Court of Appeal explained and summarised the four primary considerations for the making of a Bullock Order, namely, (1) the reasonableness of pursuing multiple defendants (2) whether the defendants were blaming one another (3) the impact of a pre-trail admission of liability by one defendant (4) whether the claims were independent of each other.

Longer text:

A Claimant who was a boxer who had suffered from an aneurism of the brain brought an action for personal injury against the operator of an imaging company, an NHS Trust and a Consultant.  Over two years after service of the Particulars of Claim, the imaging company admitted liability.  At first instance, the Second Defendant was ordered to pay the costs which the Claimant was liable to pay the First Defendant and the Claimant’s own non-generic costs of its actions against the First and Third Defendants, but only in respect of the period after the Second Defendant had admitted liability.  On the Claimant’s appeal against this Order, the Court stated that the relevant considerations include (i) the reasonableness of the Claimant’s conduct; (ii) whether the parties were blaming one another; (iii) whether the claims against the different Defendants were alternatives to one another; and (iv) whether the claims against the different Defendants were independent.  In respect of the first of these, the Court found it was reasonable for the Claimant to have sued all three Defendants and to have discontinued the claim against the other Defendants.  Secondly, it was not a necessary condition for a Bullock Order that the Defendants should be blaming one another, although it remained a relevant consideration.  The Second Defendant was blaming the Third Defendant and also saying that the First Defendant could also be liable.  The First and Third Defendants were not expressly blaming the Second Defendant.  Thirdly, if one Defendant admitted liability before trial, the possibility that one or more Co-Defendants might also have been liable is not an automatic bar to the making of a Bullock Order.  Fourthly, the Court held that the claims were not “perfectly independent causes of action against two defendants where the breaches of duty alleged are in no way connected the one with the other”.  The claims were sufficiently linked to make a Bullock Order appropriate.  The Defendant was ordered to pay all the costs which the Claimant was liable to pay to the First Defendant and all of the Claimant’s own non-generic costs of his action against the First and Third Defendants.

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