Framed By The Frogs

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So now that the Court's decision to throw out Renault's claim has been announced formally, we have a last psychological game of ‘Chicken’ to play. 

Will Renault really be prepared to label Carolyn Sample as negligent and trash her personal reputation in order to pursue an Appeal, or will Renault lead the run back to the chicken shed and just brood on it's calamitous misjudgement? 

Thirty five days will tell.  One by one I’m counting them down.  Not that I don’t have other things to do, but it really is fun ticking off each day on an imaginary calendar as yet another one runs out and ‘C’ (for Chicken) Day comes that bit closer.


I have pictured in my mind barrister Andrew Bruce of Serle Court Chambers and solicitor Paul Kite of IBB Law as they labour long into the night.  Are they perhaps surviving just on caffeine pills, Red Bull and pizza deliveries, slaving by lamplight to craft the treatise on employee negligence that will become Renault’s Appeal pleadings?

I imagine the pair scribbling furiously so that Renault can stitch up Carolyn Sample for negligence, denouncing her ‘state of mind’ (what a marvellous, but equally unfortunate, turn of phrase that is).  But then again, perhaps Carolyn Sample has nothing to fear, as Renault and its lawyers have had 18 months of trying to stitch me up and they have totally screwed that up, so perhaps Carolyn Sample's reputation will be safe.


Maybe Renault will suspend Carolyn; it would probably help their claim of ‘negligence’, or maybe they might sack her, yes, even better, that would really show the Court that Renault means business with its Appeal.


I have even passed the time wondering if Renault has made Andrew Bruce and Paul Kite do all the Appeal work for free in view of the almighty cock-up that has been the Court case.  Boy, did His Lordship take a pop at the other side over that in his Costs decision.  And entirely justified too, in my totally biased opinion. 

Just how did Andrew Bruce and Paul Kite cost Renault hundreds of thousand of pounds of client money on their own and my legal fees in a financial damages claim only to forget to prove in Court that their client had actually suffered any financial damage in the first place?


Renault, Andrew Bruce and Paul Kite might well feel that they are, respectively, the laughing stocks of the motor manufacturing and legal worlds (and I sincerely hope that they are, all feelings of magnanimity in me having evaporated at Renault’s no-show for the Judgement Hearing).


Of course, on top of all that, Renault has to pay my legal costs on an extraordinary ‘Indemnity’ basis as well.  The delicious irony of it all has not been lost on me.  Not for one single minute of the 35 day countdown to 'C' Day.


I have lain in bed at night chuckling to myself, making clucking noises and flapping my arms up and down.  Mind you, that has been a bit worrying, as I have been off the pain killers for some time now, so there is no excuse other than the ‘state of mind’ that the case has induced in me over the past 18 months.  It’s driving my wife mad, but it tickles me no end.  Life can be beautiful, especially when it allows you to indulge the sadistic streak that runs somewhere deep in all of us at times.


But all good things must come to an end, and my delight in Renault’s miserable dilemma has now come to an abrupt halt just shy of C Day.  My solicitor Nick Taylor has called me to say that he has had an e-mail from Paul Kite.  Renault has thrown in the towel; there will be no Appeal and they’d like to negotiate on costs.


I’m devastated.  No Appeal.  I have been looking forward to reading the low-down on Carolyn Sample’s alleged ‘state of mind’ and her ‘negligence’, but Renault has chickened out.


Never mind, there is still the wind-up potential of legal costs to enjoy.  Nick has explained that, even though costs have been awarded to me on an Indemnity basis, Renault can insist on a special hearing to have all my legal fees examined in minute detail.  Andrew Bruce took a swing at Laura John’s fees during the Judgement Hearing (I forgot to mention that – I think it offended His Lordship even more, especially considering how much Andrew Bruce must have charged Renault), though I found it hard to see why.


Nick reckons that this is a bit of gamesmanship by Renault, as Costs Hearings usually involve at least some form of token reduction in the amount awarded, perhaps even a drop of ten or fifteen percent or so even on an Indemnity basis.  On the standard basis it could have been twenty five or more percent and Andrew Bruce had asked for a fifty percent reduction.


So Renault has made an offer to pay about eighty five percent of my costs, give or take, which Nick thinks is probably about what I would get from a Judge at a Costs Hearing. 


Good.  Time for more fun.  Because I am starting the negotiations from no worse a position than if I go to Court over the costs,  I can now play some games with Renault.  The only potential fly in the ointment is a rule that, if we go to a Hearing and the Costs Judge doesn’t award me any more than Renault has offered, I will be liable to pay Renault’s costs for the Hearing as well as my own.  Well, I’m in no mood to either accept Renault’s offer of eighty five percent, or pay any of their legal costs.  Not one bloody penny.


Nick has suggested that we leave Renault’s offer on the back-burner over Christmas, have a think about it all, then get back to them in the New Year with proposals of our own. That seems to me to be both sensible and a nice way to prolong their discomfort, so that’s what we will do.  I’ve wished Nick a Merry Christmas, pledged to forget all about Renault for the festive season and thoroughly enjoy myself.


And what a difference a year has made.  The black cloud of despair that had hung over the holiday celebrations a year ago have gone, to be replaced with a rainbow and the prospect of sunnier skies ahead.  So, as the New Year arrives, I’m putting my mind back to the matter of legal costs.  As I contemplate the offer made by Renault, it strikes me that it is yet another bout of farcical case strategy.


You see, Renault has opened with an offer which is probably no worse than I would get going into a Costs Hearing, perhaps in the hope of a quick settlement. 

But now I know that I can haggle for as long as I want, running up the costs completely unnecessarily for Renault as solicitor Paul Kite at IBB Law goes to and fro with offer and counter offer, and I can continue to do this right up until the Costs Hearing.  Then, just before the Hearing, if I have to, I can accept their eighty five percent offer and leave Renault with an even bigger legal bill for all the additional work.  Boy, am I going to enjoy this.


So I have instructed Nick to send back a counter-proposal which leaves Renault in no doubt about who commands the high ground now.  There’s not much that Renault can do but increase their offer.


And in a rather dumb attempt at gamesmanship they have now done just that, but Renault is still adrift by a sufficient amount to make it worth my while to reject their second offer as well.  So I have. 

This time I have dropped my demand by a measly five hundred pounds, calculating that every time that solicitor Paul Kite at IBB Law gets an e-mail from Nick Taylor it will probably cost Renault at least that much in legal fees for the response to be transmitted to Simon Tippet, the in-house lawyer and company Secretary at Renault, and then for a reply with a further counter-proposal to be drafted by the lawyers (unless, of course, they really are making Paul Kite do the work for free to make up for the Court fiasco!).


So Renault must either accept my second offer or waste another five hundred quid or so in making a further increased counter offer, which I can decline, and I can keep up the game of 'Costs Ping-Pong' for months until the case is listed for a Hearing, by which time Renault will have spent more on legal fees replying to me than they will ever save at the Costs Hearing.


But sadly this morning it looks like Renault has cottoned on to my strategy, as my Costs proposal has been accepted.  Shame.  But I’m nonetheless delighted to cash the cheque.   Renault has ended up paying virtually all of my costs, plus all of its own.  I wonder if it is all coming out of someone’s pay packet at Renault?  I sincerely hope that there have been a few cancelled Christmas bonuses. 

So now, against all odds, it’s game, set and match to me.  Well, well, well.  Time to plan my revenge then.  Oh yes!

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