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What is ‘reasonableness’?

Though I had better check to see if I had created a new word for the English ‘reasonableness’, fortunately I had not, it’s a noun (The Chambers Dictionary (1995))  Must get around to updating soon!

The ‘Mitchell’ judgement sent shock waves through the legal world.  A failure to comply with the regulations had serious consequences in regards to costs.  However a second case before Mr Justice Leggatt, Summit Navigation Ltd, has provided another view.

In this case the defendant argued that the failure to meet a deadline in a consent order meant that the case was permanently stayed and that an application for relief from sanctions would need to be made and that it would be resisted.

The application was made and indeed vigorously resisted.

Mr  Justice Leggatt found for the claimant.  He noted that in the Mitchell case a Court date was vacated and re-listed, causing another case to be vacated, causing others outside the actual case to be inconvenienced.  In the Summit case no one was inconvenienced by the default, the case was not disrupted, indeed the cause of delay was the defendant’s response to the default.  Further, the need to apply for the lifting of sanctions in this case caused others to be inconvenienced as Court time was required.  This was solely due to the defendant’s stance which was ultimately found to be unreasonable.

The defendants were ordered to pay the claimant’s costs for both applications with the exception of the costs incurred by the claimant in issuing their application necessitated by their default.

So we have two judgements for what appear to be similar circumstances but with very different outcomes.  All we can say is that there will be more litigation and so far we are none the wiser.