Kirklees Council recently suffered a loss in court when its appeal to reduce the amount of its legal costs was denied. The council’s costs stem from a personal injury compensation case against it.
The case involved a gardener employed by the council in 2005 named Hayley Kaye. Ms Kaye was loading rubbish on to a truck whilst cleaning a cemetery when her accident claims occurred.
Ms Kaye began to suffer from back pain after she had picked up a heavy bin in order to load it on to the truck. She told the Huddersfield Daily Examiner in an interview that she began to miss work due to the severity of her injury claim. It was then that she decided to file a compensation claim against the council.
Ms Kaye filed a £300,000 compensation claim on the grounds that the injuries she sustained were permanent. At trial the judge determined that her injuries were instead only of a temporary nature. As a result her award was reduced to £2,197. The judge did declare liability lied in the council in regards to her injuries, however. This led to the council being ordered to pay the legal costs for the claim.
Costs for the case ran very high. This was a result of a trial that lasted for two days and incorporated medical evidence. The council appealed the judge’s decision. Their argument relied upon Ms Kaye’s award being a minuscule percentage of the damages she initially claimed. The council argued that Ms Kaye should be responsible for a percentage of the costs as well.
Lord Justice Jackson disagreed with the council’s argument however. He stated that the council was aware of how costly a trial would have been when they made the decision to go to court. If the council had truly wanted to avoid court costs, he continued, they should have settled the matter out of court instead.