Historical settled cases could be revived following Supreme Court ruling

Joanne Dunhill suffered a head injury in 1999. Her claim was settled in 2003 for £12,500 pre-litigation and without any admission of liability being made. In later years Ms Dunhill approached Claimant Solicitors as she felt that her settlement was too low. Her Solicitors have successfully argued that Ms Dunhill did not have capacity at the time that the settlement was agreed.

Normally one would expect a claim in professional negligence to be made against her former Solicitors for the negligent advice that they gave her in a matter such as this rather than a re-opening of a case closed off long ago. However this case indicates that Claimants do have the option to revisit old cases and to seek higher damages.

The circumstances of this case are such that it is unlikely that Solicitors will be applying to reopen hundreds of cases but nevertheless Authorities and Insurers should be aware that there is a potential for claims to be revisited where there could have been mental capacity issues.

Kella Bowers

About Kella Bowers

Partner in the Insurance department
This entry was posted in Emergency Services, Employers liability, Litigation, Public liability, Retail.

2 responses to Historical settled cases could be revived following Supreme Court ruling

  1. Mark Nutter says:

    Good morning Kella.
    Sligtly disturbing news.
    However, is it a little like criminals asking for their sentence to be reviewed?
    Could the re-opening of a case turn up new evidence and in fact reduce the amount of damages or even recalim the full amount and costs if the decision was overturned?
    Mark

  2. Kella Bowers says:

    Hi Mark

    In most cases of this kind such a beneficial position to the defendant is unlikely but not impossible. This case relies on the fact that the Claimant did not have mental capacity and settled the claim pre-litigation. If this had gone to Trial a Judge would have dealt with the issue of capacity. As such there is no formal “decision” here to overturn. In theory, once a case is re-opened (which is still, even after this case, not easy to do) all issues are open for re-consideration. I would not advise Defendants to start re-opening cases in an attemt to reduce damages as the likelyhood is that it will go the other way. However if, as in this case, no concessions on liability were actually made one could see how a reconsideration of the facts might lead to a different view being taken.

    Kella

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