Susan Jones successfully opposes High Court Appeal challenging both Procedural Matters and Findings of Fact

8th January 2019

Susan Jones successfully opposed High Court Appeal before Mrs Justice Lambert

Arising out of a Public Trial, at which Susan acted for the Claimant at First instance, the Appellate Local Authority challenged a decision of a Circuits Judge on 5 Grounds, which Susan categorised under two headings:

  • Whether the Judge was wrong to allow the Claimant’s oral application to rely on his witness statement, which despite his inability to read had not been verified by an authorised person until the day of trial (i.e. “the Witness Statement Issue”) (Grounds 1-3).
  • Whether the Judge was wrong in relation to findings of fact (i.e. “the Fact-Finding Issue”) (Grounds 4-5).

Witness Statement Issue

The Appellant argued: Want of evidence in support of the application, the Judge ought to have considered the three stage Denton test and the Judge ought to have struck out the Claim.

In response to the Witness Statement Issue, Susan argued that rather than a relief from sanctions application the matter was treated as a procedural defect which could be rectified under CPR3.10, but even if it ought to have been a relief from sanctions application, relief could be granted by the Court of its own initiative, the Judge considered matters relevant under Denton and finally strike out would have been disproportionate.

In respect of the witness statement issue Mrs Justice Lambert did not consider there was much between the parties and concluded that the Judge considered the broad stages and having addressed that the witness statement was not altered in any other material way and the Defendant was not prejudiced the Judge’s exercise of her discretion was not wrong or in any other way susceptible to challenge.

Fact-Finding Issue

As to the appeal of the findings of fact, the Appellate urged the Court to consider the Judge’s finding of fact as to accident location was perverse as it was contrary to the Claimant’s evidence and additionally the Claimant suffered from defective vision.

At the outset of the Respondent/Claimant’s submissions on this matter, Mrs Justice Lambert expressed that Susan would have an uphill struggle convincing her that the finding of fact should be upheld. Susan submitted that there was a consistent theme throughout the Claimant’s various accounts. Despite the initial indication that the Respondent/Claimant would have difficulty defending the finding of fact, in Judgment Mrs Justice Lambert stated “Bearing in mind the very high threshold and having heard Miss Jones’ succinct submissions I am satisfied the Judge was entitled to reach the conclusions she did” following which Mrs Justice Lambert noted Susan had reminded her of: post-accident complaint evidence and inferences the judge was entitled to draw and unchallenged medical evidence the Judge’s treatment of which was unimpeachable.

Susan’s instructing solicitor, who was present at first instance and on appeal commented:

“May I personally record my admiration of Susan Jones performance before Mrs Justice Lambert.  I sat behind her as a solicitor with 25 years post qualification experience and witnessed a rising star.  She stood her ground against Mrs Justice Lambert’s initially strident view that the judge below had reached a wrong decision on the facts and gently set out in a highly effective, forensic way how the judge’s opinion below should not be interfered with. 

Mrs Justice Lambert complimented her in open court on her “concise submissions”.  High Court Judges don’t mess around, neither did Susan”

The Appeal was dismissed on all grounds and the Claimant/Respondent recovered costs of the appeal, summarily assessed.