In the recent case of Lewis and others v Ward Hadaway (a firm) (2015) EWHC 3503 the High Court held that issuing a claim form with a statement of value lower than the true value of the claim with the intention of amending the claim at a later stage to increase its value was an abuse of process.
The case concerned a number of professional negligence claims against a firm of solicitors. All the claims had been issued, but not served, just before the relevant limitation period expired. The statement of value in the claim forms was lower than the statements of value in the letters of claim. This enabled the claimant to pay a lower issue fee for each claim. Each claim form was subsequently amended just before service to claim the higher figure and the difference in the issue fee was paid.
The Deputy High Court Judge held that issuing the claim forms with a lower statement of value was an abuse of process, even though the claim forms were subsequently amended and the increased court fees were paid.
This case is a useful reminder for Claimant litigators of the importance of accurately recording the true value of a claim on the Claim Form and paying the correct court fee at the point of issue.
This briefing was posted on 15 January 2016.