14 February 2014
How rushing to court can prove costly
Rushing into litigation with insufficient preparation and without taking advice can have unfortunate consequences. This simple fact was demonstrated when the owners of a restaurant, who claimed that their business had been blighted by, amongst other things, a leaking pipe, had their hope for compensation dashed by the High Court.
The owners of the Caribbean-themed restaurant argued that the dripping pipe had caused water ingress and left a persistent ‘slimy pool’ of water at the side of the premises. They also claimed that their business had been damaged by works carried out on the footpaths and highway outside the restaurant and by the planting of trees which were said to have obscured the premises from passing trade.
The Court found that the proceedings showed ‘every sign of having been prepared hastily’, without sufficient thought, and noted that more than one of the organisations claimed against had been misidentified. The original particulars of claim were ‘short and inadequate’, necessitating a number of attempts to improve on them by amendment.
The Court found that the owners’ claim against a property management company stood no reasonable prospect of success and had rightly been struck out at an early stage. Even following substantial amendment, their claims against the relevant local authority in respect of the leaking pipe, tree planting and other matters were not supportable in law or in fact and were dismissed. The owners’ claim against a construction company that had carried out excavation works in the restaurant’s vicinity also did not disclose an ‘arguable cause of action’ and their belated application to join a water company as a fresh defendant to the proceedings was also dismissed.
Legal proceedings must be considered carefully and prepared with great care. Failure to take and act on proper advice will almost inevitably lead to a suboptimal outcome.