Pre-action Costs in Webb Resolutions Ltd v Countrywide Surveyors Ltd 2016

This case has highlighted that a claimant must consider carefully the recoverability of pre-action costs when deciding whether to commence proceedings.

A High Court Deputy Master held that a defendant was entitled to costs of and incidental to a professional negligence claim where the claimant had notified the defendant of the claim under the Pre-Action Protocol for Professional Negligence, proceeded to issue the claim but then abandon it prior to service of the claim.

The Deputy Master commented that the scope of such costs could potentially include all that followed as the direct consequence of the Pre-Action Letter of Claim, contrary to the decision made in Citation Plc v Ellis Whittam Ltd [2012] EWHC 764 (QB).

Issuing protective proceedings that, in all likelihood, will never be pursued, or issuing tactically to put pressure on a defendant to settle what might necessarily be a strong claim, could give rise to liability to pay the defendant’s pre-action costs. Those costs could of course be significant.