Antonio Caliendo, a former Queens Park Rangers chairman has been allowed by the High Court to keep his after the event insurance (ATE) and conditional fee arrangement (CFA) in a case against Mishcon de Reya, despite missing the deadline for filing the notification of legal funding.
Caliendo and Barnaby Holdings could have faced tough court-imposed sanctions which are often referred to as “being Mitchell’ed,” after former chief whip Andrew Mitchell, whose recoverable costs in his libel case were capped at £2,000 due to sanctions imposed for missed case management deadlines.
In Caliendo’s case, the CFA and ATE insurance were agreed in relation to a claim against Mishcon de Reya over the sale and disposal of shares in the football club in 2009. Caliendo and Barnaby Holdings had entered into CFAs with DLA Piper in February and March 2013 and an ATE insurance policy in February 2013. Under Civil Procedure Rules, notification of additional liabilities attached to funding agreements must be given within seven days of entering into the agreement, after which time a sanction is imposed. DLA failed to notify Mishcon de Reya within this time limit and only did so by letter at the same time they informed Mishcon de Reya that the claimants were ready to issue.
Mishcon de Reya argued that sanctions should be imposed on the claimants as the firm would have acted differently if they had it received timely notification of the funding arrangements. While Hildyard J noted that missing this deadline was “serious” he ultimately concluded that the missed deadline did not create a significant adverse effect to the efficient conduct and progress of the case, and that imposing the sanctions would not be ‘fair, just or appropriate’ in this case.
Since Mitchell, lawyers and litigants alike have become increasingly concerned with missing case management deadlines and the potentially disastrous consequences, not to mention the potential for professional negligence claims against firms. Justice Hilyard’s decision in the Caliendo case follows a string of cases which suggest a gradual (and welcome) softening of the heavy handed approach to case management taken in Mitchell.