Philippa Whipple QC acted for the claimants in the case of Wild v Southend University NHS Foundation Trust. Michael Kent QC, sitting as a deputy judge of the High Court, has decided that a Defendant’s offer to settle “the whole claim” for a single figure, when the claim was brought by a husband and wife, who each suffered psychiatric damage on witnessing the stillbirth of their child, is not a valid offer under Part 36 CPR. He held that each of the claimants had a separate claim for personal injury, and the offer should have been addressed to each individual claimant, containing an offer specific to that individual, for it to be effective within Part 36.
This judgment settles an issue of some practical importance. It means that Defendants are well-advised to make separate offers to each claimant where an action comprises more than one claim. A global offer may still be effective where the cause of action is “joint” (for example, where a claimant sues as representative for all the dependants in a Fatal Accidents Act claim), but not otherwise.