We faced the PRA Group in a case called Pra v Brunt at the beginning of the year. We successfully defended the Claim and recovered costs of the action from the Claimant.
The trial was over before it even began in reality, the Claimant had failed to provide evidence of the assignment, its counsels skeleton argument was at odds with its evidence, and frankly Stevie Wonder could see their claim was hopeless.
Anyway, Brunt is relevant to a hearing which we attended today. The reason its relevant is because like in the Brunt case, today we succeeded in amending our Defence. However unlike Brunt, the Claimant this time around adopted an unreasonable position and refused to consent to the amended Defence.
We tried to act as reasonably as we could, we invited the Claimant to consent to the amended Defence, we offered the Claimant the costs of the amendments if they won at trial, we also reminded the Claimant that in Denton v White the Court of Appeal gave some clear guidance on what was expected from parties, and that an unfair advantage should not be taken etc. None of this worked, and as a result the Claimant forced our hand and made us attend Court today.
So to set the background, the client was a litigant in person and had received a claim from the Claimant. As the client was unaware who the PRA group were, a basic Defence was submitted denying any contractual relationship with the Claimant. As a result the Claimant applied for summary judgment.
After we were instructed, we identified numerous issues which had not been raised by the client, we set about drafting an amended Defence and invited the Claimant to consent to this. We also invited the Claimant to withdraw the application for judgment on the basis that
- With the amended Defence in play there was a real prospect of success
- in any event, the Defendant was entitled to make an application under s140A Consumer Credit Act 1974 at any time, thus summary judgment was not suitable
- The Court under EU Law is mandated to assess the terms of the contract for fairness, again part 24 was not suitable to this case
- and there were other issues which supported our case.
Now anyone who understands part 24 will know that if there is a triable issue which needs to be dealt with at trial with evidence etc, then part 24 is not suitable. However the Claimant appears to have missed this point. Likewise they missed the fact that under CPR 24 the Claimant must draw to the Defendants attention that under CPR 24.5 if the Defendant wishes to rely on any evidence then it must be submitted 7 days before the hearing. The Claimant failed to mention this in the application.
So drawing all these strands together, the Claimants application was doomed.
We must have invited the Claimant to consent to the withdrawal no less than 8 times over 3 weeks. Anyway, the Claimant sought our consent to adjourn the hearing, and allow some 3 hours to deal with it!!! This was another reason why summary judgment was not suited, if 3 hours are needed then there must be a triable issue here we said. The Claimant disagreed.
So we turn up to the Court hearing, and we get presented with a 12 page skeleton argument, and an authorities bundle, again more ammo to add to our argument that if this is all necessary for a summary judgment app then there is an issue for trial and thus the summary judgment app should be dismissed and the amended Defence allowed.
The Judge agreed with our view, the Claimants application was dismissed, the amended Defence allowed, and the Claimant ordered to pay our costs of the hearing. Hopefully the Claimant will be more reasonable next time otherwise they should make sure they bring their cheque book with them.