Riordan v Moon Beevor Solicitors [2018] EWHC 1452 (QB)



Judge: Foskett J

Citation: [2018] EWHC 1452 (QB)

Summary:

The court maintains a jurisdiction to intervene in the implementation of a consent order, even where there has been no material change of circumstances.

Longer text:

The Court has jurisdiction to intervene in the implementation of an Order which is being made by consent.  Such an intervention does not require that there had to have been a material change of circumstances since the Order was agreed.  In the particular case, the Defendant solicitors appealed against a Master’s decision to stay a consent order on the Claimants’ application.  The Defendant solicitors had represented the Claimants, in proceedings in which they were unsuccessful and declared liable for approximately £3.5million.  The Claimants blamed the firm for the failure of the litigation and refused to pay.  The Claimants’ application for detailed assessment was struck out after they failed to file and serve evidence in support.  The Claimants applied for relief from sanctions which led to the making of the Consent Order.  The Consent Order required the Claimants to pay £650,000 by a certain date.  The Claimants applied for an extension of time and at the hearing of the application applied to vary, revoke or stay the Consent Order on the basis that there had been a material change in circumstances since they had only recently appreciated that they could bring professional negligence proceedings against the firm.  The Court found that it was difficult to characterise the agreement in the Consent Order as anything other than a “procedural accommodation” and accordingly the jurisdiction to intervene could arise.  The Judge referred to Thwaite v Thwaite[1] as authority for the proposition that where an Order, even made by consent, was still executory and one of the parties applied to the Court to enforce the Order, the Court might refuse it if, in the circumstances prevailing at the time of the application, it would be inequitable to do so.

[1] (1982) Fam 1.

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