Supreme Court finds brain-injured claimant lacked capacity and can reopen her settlement

12.03.14 | |

Dunhill v Burgin [2014] UKSC 18


The Supreme Court has held that Mrs Dunhill, who suffered a severe closed head injury in a road traffic accident, can reopen her claim for damages against the defendant. Whilst represented by her former legal representatives, her claim was issued without a litigation friend and settled grossly undervalue for £12,500. The settlement was embodied in a consent order but was never approved by the Court.


The Supreme Court held that (a) her capacity to conduct proceedings was to be assessed by reference to the claim which Mrs Dunhill in fact had, rather than the lesser claim formulated by her lawyers and (b) the settlement and court order are of no effect since any settlement should have been approved by the court under CPR 21.10(1).  Settlements of claimants who actually lack capacity may subsequently be set aside even if their lack of capacity was unknown to the other party.   


Mrs Dunhill was represented by Maria Roche, led by Chris Melton QC and Marc Willems, instructed by Potter Rees Ltd.

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