Lines v Sachithanantham.
In the Fast Track hearing of this claim, heard by DJ Helen Evans on 28th February 2020 at Wandsworth County Court, Which Rate had provided evidence of Basic Hire Rate which the claimant had chosen to challenge with a rebuttal statement provided by Dean Roberts of DPR Solutions Ltd.
Dean has been providing these reports for more than five years and is aware of how claimant solicitors have faced a range of challenges in having rebuttal evidence admitted where the standard directions orders a report of basic hire rates only.
In this case, Dean was instructed by Canford Law. He drafted a rebuttal in circumstances where there was an offer of £3,000 against hire charges of £18,000. The defendant was represented by Flint Bishop and their rate evidence was provided by Which Rate.
The claimant made the decision to test the Which Rate rebuttal and run it to Court. The trial judge agreed with Dean's rebuttal and dismissed the evidence of Which Rate allowing recovery of the hire charges in full.
We believe that the trial judge said that if Dean had summarised the contents of his rebuttal at the end of his statement, as a bullet-point summary, it would have been easier to assess against the defendant’s evidence. In fact, she said that had there been a bullet point list that she could have just copy-and-pasted the factual analysis into her judgment.
This case was pre-Bunting and we still await the transcript to be published. However, it demonstrates the importance of a rebuttal, the need to evolve the basis on which evidence is presented where the facts allow, and shows that some DJs are receptive to the detail when they can see it.
Dean advises that he now includes a bullet point summary in his rebuttal evidence in order that counsel can get straight to the issues and the judge does not have to extract the detail from his evidence to identify the factual flaws in the Which Rate evidence,* something which we all know, from experience, is something they dislike having to do.
*The existence of factual flaws in defendant rate evidence are not limited to evidence from Which Rate