Most of us are, by nature, creatures of habit (lawyers perhaps more so than others). Our particular habits are generally harmless. It is unlikely that anyone will be adversely affected if you always go to the same coffee shop for your morning coffee, or always use your childhood pet’s name as your password. But it seems that, when it comes to drafting claims, some lawyers have a habit that isn’t entirely innocuous.
In Bhatti v Asghar, the High Court held that a claim had not been issued within the relevant limitation period because the claimant had failed to pay the appropriate court fee. One of the causes of the underpayment was that the claim form included the customary pleading of “further or other relief”. This standard phrase triggered payment of the court fee payable under paragraph 1.5 of the schedule to the Civil Proceedings Fees Order (in relation to proceedings for “any other remedy”). When issuing, the claimant had paid only the fee relating to his “money” claim (under paragraph 1.1 of the fees order schedule).
The judgment provides useful guidance on how to calculate the value of a claim for the purposes of determining the correct court fee payable upon issue. It is also a pertinent reminder of the importance of always carefully checking the correct court fee. But what got me thinking was how the familiar wording was so nearly fatal to the claimant’s claim. Why are the words “further or other relief” routinely included in claim forms and particulars of claim?
A quick review of various eminent textbooks suggested that these words are routinely included in example particulars of claim, but none of these sources provided clear guidance as to the effect of the wording, or the consequences of failing to include it. I mentioned this point to a few practitioners; they confirmed that they include the wording but couldn’t really explain why, other than that the practice originated under the Rules of the Supreme Court. (For younger readers, the Rules of the Supreme Court were the procedural rules that were superseded by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) in 1999!)
The fee under paragraph 1.5 of the court fees order is currently £528. This fee is payable, in addition to the fee for issuing a money claim, where the money claim is additional to a non-money claim (other than a claim for the recovery of goods or land). So, a claimant who is starting proceedings to recover a sum of money will have to pay an extra £528 if an additional claim for further or other relief is pleaded. I think most claimants would want to understand the justification for this cost. Is it enough to say that it’s what you’ve always done?
The editor responsible for the White Book commentary on CPR 16 has recently indicated to me that including the phrase “further or other relief” has no practical value in a claim form. CPR 16.2(1)(b) requires that the claim form must “specify the remedy which the claimant seeks” . However, the court may grant any remedy to which the claimant is entitled even if that remedy is not specified in the claim form (CPR 16.2(5)). On the basis of the CPR, therefore, adding a claim for unspecified “other” relief seems unnecessary.
However, it is possible to find a couple of judgments – including one from the Court of Appeal – which suggest that a claim for further or other relief might be taken into account when granting relief that has not been expressly pleaded (as mentioned in our guidance).
Given the potential uncertainty, maybe it is not surprising that lawyers continue to include this wording in claim forms and particulars of claim. But it seems to me that, if you are acting for a client with a straightforward money claim, it is worth thinking about whether you can justify your client paying an additional £528 to plead further or other relief, or if you can risk breaking the habit.
If you have any thoughts on this issue, Practical Law would be delighted to hear from you.