Rob Weir KC in Court of Appeal case on court’s power to order parties to engage in ADR

In Churchill v Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council [2023] EWCA Civ 1416, the claimant brought a claim against the council for encroachment of Japanese knotweed on his land.   He had refused the council’s offer to engage in its Internal Complaints Procedure, not least because this did not permit him to recover legal costs.   Once he had issued his claim, the council applied to have it stayed.  The DDJ refused to stay the proceedings on the ground that he was precluded from requiring the parties to engage in this procedure by what was said in Halsey v Milton Keynes General NHS Trust [2004] 1 WLR 3002.

The Court of Appeal (Lady Chief Justice Carr, Vos MR, Birss LJ) held that, contrary to the obiter dicta in Halsey, the court did have the power to require parties to engage in ADR.   Nevertheless, on the facts of this case, it was not appropriate to order a stay of proceedings.

The issue of whether it would ever be appropriate to require a claimant to engage in the defendant’s internal complaints procedure was held over to another day.

Rob Weir KC acted for the claimant/respondent, leading Tom Carter of Ropewalk Chambers, instructed by Jo-Ann Cameron-Branthwaite of McDermott Smith Law Ltd.

The judgment can be accessed here.

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