What is the court to make of a situation in which a political party involves itself as a non-party in a defamation claim that was being brought against one of its Parliamentary candidates? Would mere funding of the defence give rise to a liability for costs? Would such a liability arise if the party took a ‘deliberate, informed and calculated’ decision to avoid the claim settling until after a forthcoming General Election? These were the questions before Warby J in the recent judgment of Barron MP and others v Collins MEP and another  EWHC 253 (QB).
Warby J in making a non-party costs order a key element was his finding that UKIP took a ‘deliberate, informed and calculated’ decision to ensure that the case was not settled before the General Election. That decision ‘very probably’ prevented a settlement from taking place at that time. Warby J’s decision has added to the line of cases that have followed Turvill v Bird  EWCA Civ 703 and Deutsche Bank AG v Sebastian Holdings Inc  EWCA Civ 23, those being decisions that confirm that the principles in Symphony Group Plc v Hodgson  QB 179 (CA) and related cases are not immutable; Warby J has emphasised that the critical factor in deciding whether a non-party costs order should be made is the nature and degree of the non-party’s connection with the proceedings.
LexisPSL Dispute Resolution subscribers enjoy access to the full news analysis Non-party costs order against a political party who prevented the timely settlement of a defamation claim for political reasons (Barron v Collins) written by Dr Mark Friston, Barrister, Hailsham Chambers.
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