Hugh Grant and Part 36 Offers

Hugh Grant and Part 36 Offers: A Legal Perspective

23/04/2024

Hugh Grant, the internationally renowned British actor, has had a long and successful career in the film industry. While he is primarily known for his roles in films such as “Bridget Jones’s Diary”, “The Gentleman” and “Notting Hill,” Grant has also been involved in some legal battles that have gained media attention.

Most recently, the actor settled a privacy case against the publisher of the Sun newspaper where in which he had claimed that he was being illegally targeted by the newspaper’s journalists. He claimed that the journalists had used private investigators to bug his house and hack his phone.

After the settlement of the claim, the actor has been vocal about the fact that he “did not want to accept” the settlement and that he wanted to see the allegations tested in Court. He however acknowledged the rules surrounding civil litigation. More specially, the actor stated that had he proceeded with his claim and the Courts awarded him “damages that are even a penny less than the settlement offer, I would have to pay the legal costs of both side”. This is more formally known as the “Part 36” rule.

What is a Part 36 Offer?

In English civil litigation, a Part 36 offer is a formal offer to settle a dispute outside of court and often used to act as a tool to encourage an opposing party to settle the dispute without the need for a trial. Therefore, such offers can save a significant amount of time and costs. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) require Part 36 Offers to:

  • Be made in writing;
  • State whether it takes into account any counterclaim;
  • Specify a period (the “Relevant Period”) of not less than 21 days within which the paying party will be automatically liable for the receiving party’s costs if the offer is accepted;
  • State whether it relates to the whole of the claim; and
  • Finally, it must make clear that it is pursuant to Part 36.

These offers have specific rules and consequences under the CPR and if not followed, can lead to cost consequences against the defaulting party.

As referred to by Hugh Grant, if a party rejects a Part 36 offer and later fails to obtain a more favourable judgment at Court, they may be ordered to pay the other party’s legal costs from the end of the Relevant Period to trial.

The connection between Part 36 Offers and Hugh Grant’s claim

Given the potential advantages associated with Part 36 offers, it is not surprising that an even high-profile individual like Hugh Grant may come across them in their legal proceedings.

There has been discussion about the unfairness of Hugh Grant being prevented from ‘having his day in Court’ and whether the offer made amounted to a tactic to prevent a thorough examination of the conduct and practices of the Sun Newspaper. However, whilst litigants may want ‘their day in court’ and to prove a point of principle, the Court’s function is to deliver a solution to a dispute, often in the form of monetary compensation. The Court and the CPR encourage settlement and any person who rejects a realistic settlement proposal does so at their own risk. If there is the opportunity to settle and avoid the time and expense of litigation, the Courts will penalise a litigant who refuses to do so ‘to have their day in Court’.

While the specifics of Hugh Grant’s use of Part 36 offers remain largely speculative due to the confidential nature often surrounding legal settlements, the concept highlights the strategic importance of these offers in civil litigation.

How can Pinney Talfourd help

The effect and tactics of Part 36 Offers is to settle, and the risks of rejecting Offers is part of the advice we give in all areas of disputes dealt with by our commercial and property litigation teams.

The above is meant to be only advice and is correct as of the time of posting. This article was written by Zeliha Sari, Trainee Solicitor in the Residential Property Litigation team and Emma Hardie, CILEX Lawyer in our Commercial Litigation team at Pinney Talfourd LLP Solicitors. The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of April 2024.

23/04/2024

Authors

Emma Rayner

Emma Hardie

CILEX Lawyer

Zeliha Sari

Zeliha Sari

Trainee Solicitor

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