Hugh would have thought…

by Karen Young

26 April 2024

In light of actor Hugh Grant’s recent privacy claim settlement against News Group Newspapers (NGN), there’s a growing trend in civil litigation towards settling disputes outside of court rather than proceeding to trial. Grant’s case highlights the impact of Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR), which incentivises parties to accept reasonable settlement offers to avoid potential financial penalties later down the line.

Part 36 aims to create a financial incentive for settling civil disputes by penalising parties that reject reasonable settlement offers and instead proceed to trial. Grant’s decision to settle, despite preferring a trial, was influenced by the potential costs he could incur under Part 36 if he didn’t surpass the settlement amount at trial.

This rule underscores the importance of carefully weighing the risks and benefits of trial versus settlement. While settlements can avoid costs, stress, and delays associated with trials, they may limit efforts to seek vindication or expose misconduct through court proceedings.

Grant’s case prompts broader discussions about access to justice and accountability, particularly in cases involving powerful entities like NGN. Settlement practices can shield companies from public scrutiny and accountability, highlighting the need for potential reforms to settlement rules in cases driven by non-monetary motives.

This article was written with the assistance of Saffron Nunes-Petts
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