In the fourth part of our series on contract management pitfalls, we look at the risks arising out of varying the terms of construction contracts.
Our client has received a lump sum of £3.4 million and annual payments of £195,000 for the rest of his life. This money will improve his quality of life significantly, enabling him to buy his own home, employ specialist carers and a case manager.
Evidence from our client’s parents and independent experts was a key part of our client’s case. We also obtained a formal witness statement from our client’s case manager, which served as strong evidence and helped us to secure the best possible outcome for our client. However, the admissibility of the witness statement was heavily contested by the Defendant, and a Court Hearing was required so that a judge could adjudicate on the issue. The High Court Judge found in our favour at the Hearing and gave permission for the witness statement as it stood, without any limitations or caveats. The judge recognised the worth of witness evidence from case managers in cases such as our client’s and commented as follows:
“In my judgment, the evidence of [the case manager], in principle, ought to be admitted; it will assist the court in understanding the day to day situation in which the claimant currently finds himself. So far as the part of the witness statement which comprises expressions of opinion is concerned, it seems to me that it is unrealistic to expect the case manager not to have opinions. Her job requires her to have those opinions... It is not a criticism of [the case manager] to say that she is not independent in the same sense that a litigation expert is expected to be... her priority is not the provision of impartial opinion evidence for litigation but to do whatever she can to improve the claimant’s care regime and treatment regime.”
Mr Justice Edis, High Court of Justice, Birmingham District Registry
We were very pleased that the judge recognised the importance of this witness statement and agreed with us that our client should be allowed to use this as part of the evidence in the case. Witness evidence from a case manager is extremely useful, but, as happened in this case, it is quite often contested. Being able to rely on information and opinions from a professional who knew our client very well and could give her opinions about his disability, quality of life, needs, how these should be met and the cost of doing so was very useful. Without this it would be difficult to show the judge exactly what life was like for our client, who we felt should be recognised as an individual with his own unique needs and hopes.
This evidence also helped us to successfully rebut the opinions of the care expert instructed by the Defendant, who argued that it would be preferable for our client to stay in shared accommodation and rely on state-funded care. We felt that was not meeting his needs and his quality of life could be much improved by a specialist care package dedicated to him and living in his own home.
Our team use our expertise and persistence in order to secure the best outcome for our clients, something which we believe is clearly visible in this result.
For more information, please contact Ann Houghton.
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