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Stephen’s areas of expertise are commercial and contractual disputes, construction disputes and professional negligence claims. Stephen acts for individuals and businesses from a variety of sectors, with a focus on limited companies in the engineering and construction industries, as well as Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).
“The judge made this level of additional award despite the Claimant obtaining judgment for a sum in excess of $2m including interest. The judge’s reasoning was that the Claimant had succeeded at Summary Judgment rather than at trial and because he had already awarded a significant amount of interest.
"This case highlights two very important principles when it comes to the issue of litigation. Firstly, it demonstrates that the court has a very wide discretion when it comes to the issue of costs.
"Secondly, it is more beneficial than ever for a Claimant to make a Part 36 offer which it has a realistic prospect of beating at trial or Summary Judgment.”
This new flexibility represents a sea-change in approach and the effects could be significant, with the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, stating that people should be free to spend their pension on a Lamborghini if they wish. Quite apart from the potential future implications on the welfare state, there is concern amongst industry professionals that pensioners could lose out significantly unless they take professional advice on the implications of accessing their funds under the new legislation. Individuals need to understand, and advisers need to make themselves aware of, options available and, crucially, the tax consequences of this flexibility.
“This reform, coupled with Auto-Enrolment and the anticipated budget reforms announced by the Chancellor in relation to pensioners being able to sell/exit their annuities, has led some industry insiders predicting a wave of litigation. The Chief Executive of the Financial Conduct Authority, Martin Wheatley, has warned of the threat of fraud to pensioners due to the uncertainty created by the upcoming changes.
“Non-compliance with the new legislation, incorrect advice being provided and unscrupulous third parties and scammers trying to take advantage by convincing pensioners to invest their funds in high-risk or non-existent schemes are all a present and credible threat. Taking pre-emptive legal advice could go a long way to prevent this from happening and, if you think you have been the victim of a scam or a have a claim against an advisor, the sooner solicitors are instructed to investigate, the higher the chance that relevant documents will still be available and the parties and monies involved can be traced.”
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