A Reminder to Sue the Proper Party

It has been a long time since the last post here but hopefully that will change.

A recent decision of the Supreme Court of Western Australia caught my eye this week involving an application for indemnity costs.

Threats of indemnity costs orders are often thrown around in solicitors correspondence without any real thought as to the grounds must first be made out. That is, improper or unreasonable conduct which requires an indemnity costs order to signal the court’s disapproval of that conduct.

In Lance v QAV Pty Ltd [2013] WASC 13, Mr Lance was a litigant in person, although on his account, not by choice. According to Mr Lance, his solicitor was on leave over the Christmas period when Mr Lance appears to have ‘had enough’ and decided to start superior court litigation on his own. I mean hey, it can’t be that hard can it.

Anyway, Mr Lance sued the registered proprietor of the bulk of the lots in the Strata Plan where he had a dispute. Mr Lance should have sued the Strata Company. This was pointed out to him by the solicitors for the registered proprietor along with an open offer to discontinue with no order as to costs. Mr Lance in his ultimate wisdom did not accept that offer.

The end result is that his claim went from filed to dismissed with an order for indemnity costs within 4 weeks (12 days if you only count from when the claim was served).

That is what I call speedy justice!

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