The much-anticipated judgement in Hadley v Przybylo on the recoverability of solicitors’ costs in catastrophic injury claims has been hailed as a major development for personal injury law.

The judgement related to whether costs incurred by solicitors for attending MDT meetings and liaising with case managers and other health and financial deputies during a personal injury claim were automatically recoverable.

On Friday 15 March the Court of Appeal unanimously found for the claimant on both his grounds of appeal, including that the element of costs is recoverable in principle.

The ruling means that moving forward, solicitors costs incurred in attending meetings connected with the claimant’s rehabilitation, including those with case managers or financial deputies, may be recoverable and defendants can no longer challenge these costs on the point of principle.

However, costs must still be reasonably and proportionally incurred, and each case will be considered individually.

Background to the case

In 2020, the claimant was involved in a road traffic collision, through no fault of his own, in which he suffered catastrophic injuries. After being hospitalised for several months he was transferred to a specialist rehabilitation unit and eventually discharged into the community, supported by a team of carers. The defendant admitted liability.

At a hearing in March 2023, the claimant filed costs of £1.18 million, over £500,000 of which was incurred through solicitors fees. The defendant claimed these costs were excessive and unnecessary.

Master McCloud ruled in favour of the defendant, determining that the costs were ‘not progressive’ and therefore not recoverable. The claimant then appealed this decision.

The Court was provided with extensive evidence addressing the role, scope and interaction of solicitor, case manager and deputy – with detailed statements from the claimant’s solicitor, two case managers and the deputy. However, the Court found that this material had limited bearing on the point of principle.

The ruling

The Court of Appeal ruling clarified that costs associated with rehabilitation could be recoverable if they meet certain criteria of reasonableness and proportionality. However, it emphasised that not all costs, especially those related to routine meetings, may be recoverable.

Dr Edmund Bonikowski, founding director of NRC Medical, welcomed the ruling as a positive development in personal injury law.

“This much-anticipated ruling represents a significant development in personal injury law, particularly when it comes to the handling of catastrophic injury claims,” he commented.

“Medico-legal cases are often lengthy and complex so this decision may provide some level of reassurance to future claimants and their legal teams.

“However, while in this case, the claimant’s appeal was successful, it doesn’t mean that solicitors should attend all meetings and incur unnecessary costs. Recoverability of costs will still depend on the specific circumstances of each case and both parties are encouraged to collaborate.”

NRC Medical helps to connect solicitors, barriers and legal teams with medical experts in the field of neurorehabilitation, to help ensure they get the best outcome for their client. You can view our expert directory here or get in touch today to make an enquiry.