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WILLIAM ALBERT HIGGINS v MINISTRY OF DEFENCE

The master had been entitled to take into account the claimant's age and the urgency of his case when deciding that it had been reasonable for him to instruct solicitors in central London in respect of his personal injury claim against the Ministry of Defence. The list of factors set out by Kennedy L.J. in Wraith v Sheffield Forgemasters Ltd (1998) 1 WLR 132 in relation to this issue was useful but was not of general application.

13 April 2010

he appellant Ministry of Defence (MoD) appealed against a ruling of a master upholding a decision of the principal costs officer that it had been reasonable for the respondent (H) to instruct solicitors (F) in central London. At the relevant time, H had been 82 and living in Broadstairs, Kent. He had worked for the MoD and his work had brought him into contact with asbestos. He sought medical advice in November 2007, complaining of breathlessness. In December 2007, he saw a consultant in respiratory medicine, who advised that asbestosis was the main cause of his breathlessness and that he probably had cancer. He told H that the condition was advanced and that there was no treatment. He mentioned the name of F. By that time H was able to walk very little, and his daughter had moved in to care for him. She contacted F, who accepted instructions to act. A settlement was arrived at before H's death in May 2008. On the issue of whether it had been reasonable for H to instruct solicitors ...

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