Incorrect Court Fee and Limitation Periods: Dixon v Radley House Partnership [2016] EWHC 2511 (TCC)


It was established in Page v Hewetts Solicitors [2012] EWCA Civ 805, that a claim is ‘brought’ for limitation purposes when the claim form is delivered to the court office, accompanied by a request to issue and the appropriate fee. The issue raised in Dixon, was what was meant by ‘appropriate fee’.

Whilst still within limitation, the Claimant issued a claim form claiming a specific sum (£35,894.78) and tended the correct fee for a money claim of up to £50,000. Some months later when out limitation, the Claimant served Particulars of Claim seeking damages in excess of £400,000.

The defendant sought to amend to plead limitation on the grounds that because an incorrect fee had been paid the claim as it stood was statute barred-the claimant had failed to stop time running for the purposes of limitation.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith noted that there was no statutory provision which stated that issued proceedings were invalid if the court had accepted a fee which was or became less than the proper fee for the claim. He stated:

In a case where abusive conduct was not present, the fact that a claimant intended to bring a claim which could not be articulated or quantified at the time of issuing proceedings should not require payment of the fee that would have been payable if that claim had been articulated or quantified. In those circumstances, where the court had issued proceedings but the correct fee had not been either paid or requested by the court, an action had nevertheless been brought for the purposes of the 1980 Act at the moment of issue’.

Thus, the ‘appropriate fee’ for the purposes of the principle in Page was to be determined by reference to the claims articulated in the claim form. In the absence of abusive behaviour, it was not to be determined by reference to claims which were articulated later, whether or not such later claims were ones which the claimant intended to bring later at the time of issuing proceedings.

The decision therefore turned on the distinction between abusive conduct (for example, issuing a claim that knowingly understates the ultimate intended value of the claim), and issuing a claim where aspects, such as the value of claim, have fairly yet to be developed.