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Hibberd-Little v Carlton [2018] EWHC 1787 (QB)

6th July 2018

Judge dismisses subtle brain injury claim for £4,434,307. Jonathan Watt-Pringle QC, instructed by Clyde & Co, for the Defendant.

The claimant, a highly intelligent teacher, was injured in a rear-end shunt, in which the impact speed was appreciably less than 30 mph. Having started a claim in the Portal, she later proceeded in the High Court, alleging that she had suffered Diffuse Axonal Injury and audio-vestibular injuries, and that she had been left with a collection of life-changing neurogenic and cognitive symptoms. As a result, she had had to give up a stellar teaching career and had opened a tea room with disastrous financial consequences.

The Judge found her evidence inconsistent, inaccurate and unreliable, and he rejected the evidence on brain injury of her expert witnesses in the fields of neurology and psychology: see [90] – [103] & [104] – [131]. The Judge was particularly critical of the psychologist’s evidence. He found a lack of transparency about her professional disciplinary record, and was not satisfied that she was sufficiently independent and objective as an expert witness to be of any real assistance to the court; moreover, her dual function as an expert witness and treating therapist was a “serious problem”: see [110] – [120].

Following the 11-day trial, the claimant was awarded £41,250 (inclusive of interest), which amounted to 0.93% of her claim for £4,434,307. She was awarded 25% of her costs until the date of the defendant’s Part 36 offer, and ordered to pay the defendant’s costs thereafter, plus backdated interest thereon. Although this was a QOCS case, the Judge directed that the claimant’s costs should be set-off against the defendant’s costs.

The judgment can be viewed here.