SOUTHERN ELECTRIC CONTRACTING LTD V MEAD REALISATIONS LTD
Technology and Construction Court
4 November 2009
The claimant obtained an adjudicator’s decision for the defendant to pay it a specified sum plus interest. The defendant endeavoured to negotiate payment terms for the sum awarded to be paid instalments notwithstanding that the date for payment envisaged by the decision had expired. The claimant issued court enforcement proceedings which contained the standard notes indicating that additional costs and interest might be added to the amount claimed if judgment was entered and to which were attached particulars of claim and a supporting witness statement. A representative of the defendant wrote to the court on the defendant’s behalf in which he stated that the defendant had received the claim form and accompanying documentation, admitted the defendant’s liability and offered on behalf of the defendant to pay three sums at different times, including a final "balance" payment. The claimant’s solicitors responded to this letter to the court by stating that the claimant was willing to accept the defendant’s offer.
Akenhead J held that the defendant should pay the claimant’s legal costs of the court enforcement proceedings to enforce the adjudicator’s decision, which costs should not be confined to the (£100) fixed costs for such proceedings and instead should be assessed summarily. This was because the parties had reached agreement in principle that the "balance" referred to by the defendant’s representative’s in his letter to the court was payable by the specified date and was to include any outstanding sum due for interest and legal costs. The defendant’s representative’s letter to the court was an offer to make a final "balance" payable to the claimant, including costs and interest by the specified date. The claimant’s solicitors’ letter in response was an acceptance of that offer. What was being offered and accepted was the claimant to receive the "balance" no later than the specified date. This was a claim brought in the TCC to enforce an adjudication decision. It was clear from the claim form and the particulars of claim that costs were actually and expressly being claimed. It was also clear and must have been clear to the defendant that an amount of costs had been incurred in terms of legal costs by the claimant.