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No.20 of 2002

Mary Hall v Rover Financial Services Ltd (GB) Trading as Land Rover Financial Services
10 October 2002
The Court of Appeal, Longmore and Tuckey LJJ

The Claimant, who had acquired a Range Rover fro a hire-purchaser, had, the County Court Judge held, obtained good title to the car and so was awarded £38,000 damages against the Defendant finance company who had seized the Range Rover car because it had previously been let out by them to a company called Albahall. The Judge however made no order as to costs in favour of the Claimant. His judgment on costs in full read as follows:

"So far as costs are concerned, I do not think that this is a proceeding whose necessity arose from the way in which the original purchase from Albahall was made, in circumstances which, as I have tried to make clear in my judgment, ought to have excited suspicion on the part of the purchaser. It, as I held, did not excite such suspicion but it nonetheless is a transaction which accordingly properly excited the suspicion of the Defendant. Since that suspicion on the part of the Defendant arises from what I regard to some extent as misconduct on the part of the Claimant, and I think this is one of those unusual cases where I am justified in making no order for costs in favour of the successful Claimant."

The Claimant appealed on the question of costs with the permission of the Single Judge and a two Judge court reversed the trial Judge's decision. That court held that whilst a trial Judge has a very wide discretion in respect of costs he ought not to deprive a Claimant of all or part of his or her costs on the ground of misconduct where the alleged misconduct does not form part of the proceedings, but is conduct extraneous to or preceding, those proceedings.

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