Daft Punk

Continuing the theme of Artificial Intelligence (AI), an interesting case decided this year was that of Amjad v UK Insurance [2023] EWHC 2832 which concerned an appeal over questions of QOCS and the application of the costs rules, in the context of a credit hire claim. Normally I would seek to write a blog post of circa 1500 words setting out my thoughts on the decision, as High Court cases concerning credit hire claims are relatively rare, and High Court cases concerning the application of QOCS to credit hire claims are rarer still: in recent years the insurers have tended to focus on the possibility of a Non Party Costs Order (NPCO) which are decided under their own jurisprudence.

As I am experimenting with ChatGPT at the moment, I thought it would be interesting to treat it as my virtual assistant, or ethereal pupil, and utilising some prompt engineering skills asked it to create the following article. What has come home to me, is that AI does, and only does, what you ask it to. It therefore follows that the quality of the “prompts” is absolutely key to rinsing it for the best performance. The closest analogy to prompt engineering, is rather like attempting to program a ZX Spectrum in BASIC, in 1983. Overall I think it’s not a bad effort on the AI’s part. Will it displace my own pithy tone of phrase, and make me redundant as blogmaster? I don’t think so. Or rather: not yet.

Amusingly it also created for me, the visual image which I have used to head this post.

ChatGPT, take it away please:

The case “Amjad v UK Insurance Ltd” involved a road traffic accident (RTA) claim by Muhammad Tanveer Amjad, a taxi driver, against UK Insurance Ltd. This case illustrates the complexities of handling personal injury claims mixed with non-personal injury claims, particularly regarding cost liabilities and the application of Qualified One-Way Cost Shifting (QOCS).

  • Incident and Claim: On July 4, 2019, Amjad was involved in an RTA when Mr. Smith collided with his taxi. Unable to afford the £6000 repair cost, Amjad hired a vehicle through a Credit Hire Company (CHC), incurring a bill of approximately £51,600. His financial situation was precarious, earning £12,000 per annum and relying on working tax credit.
  • Legal Proceedings: The claim was issued in late 2020. Amjad asserted impecuniosity to justify the high CHC charges, while the defendant admitted negligence but challenged the necessity and reasonableness of the charges.
  • Trial Outcome: The trial judge awarded Amjad £10,029.64 for various damages but also ruled that he failed to beat a Part 36 offer made by the defendant. Consequently, the judge ordered Amjad to pay the defendant’s costs from a specific date, allowing the enforcement of these costs against Amjad up to £15,000, exceeding the damages and interest awarded.

Appeal Outcome

The appeal succeeded. The appeal judge found that the trial judge erred in his application of QOCS rules.

Appeal Judge’s Reasoning

  1. Benefit of CHC Charges: The appeal judge determined that the benefit of the CHC charges claim would have gone to the CHC, not the claimant, making gateway (a) of CPR r.44.16(2) applicable​​.
  2. Mutually Exclusive Gateways: The judge argued that gateways (a) and (b) of CPR r.44.16(2) are generally alternatives, and the court must decide who benefits most from the claim​​.
  3. Characterization of the Proceedings: The appeal judge disagreed with the trial judge’s characterization of the proceedings as non-personal injury (PI). He believed that had the compliance issue with the disclosure order been addressed earlier, the trial would have proceeded differently, focusing on the personal injury aspect​​.
  4. Consideration of Lifting the Cap: The judge outlined the factors to consider when deciding whether it’s just to lift the cap on enforcement against a claimant who brought a claim for personal injury and non-personal injury, which wasn’t frivolous or abusive and had some success in damages for personal injuries​​.
  5. Grounds for Appeal: The appeal judge listed several errors made by the trial judge, including the incorrect application of both gateways (a) and (b), failure to properly consider the character of the proceedings, and the decision to lift the QOCS cap without adequate justification​​.

Conclusion: Five Most Important Points

  1. Successful Appeal: The appeal succeeded, primarily due to the trial judge’s misapplication of QOCS rules.
  2. QOCS Application in Mixed Claims: The case highlights the intricacies of applying QOCS in cases with a mix of personal injury and non-personal injury claims. The appeal judge’s focus was on determining who benefits from the claim to apply the correct QOCS gateway.
  3. Importance of Proper Case Characterization: The appeal emphasized the importance of correctly characterizing the nature of proceedings, especially in mixed claim scenarios, to apply the appropriate legal principles.
  4. Judicial Discretion and Legal Standards: The case underscores the balance between judicial discretion and adherence to legal standards, especially in complex cases involving mixed claims.
  5. Significance and Impact: The case sets a precedent in the application of QOCS rules, particularly in determining the beneficiary of a claim and how this impacts the enforcement of costs. It offers guidance for future cases involving mixed personal injury and non-personal injury claims, ensuring a fair and legally sound approach to cost liabilities.

The significance of this case lies in its clarification of the application of QOCS rules in mixed claim scenarios, which will likely influence how future cases are approached, especially regarding the allocation of costs and the protection afforded to claimants under QOCS. This case may lead to more rigorous scrutiny of who benefits from various claims and may influence how mixed personal injury and non-personal injury claims are handled in the future, particularly in terms of cost recovery and claimants’ protection.

The instructions that I gave the AI were as follows:

Write a 4000 word summary of this case. Set out the key facts in 1000 words. Identify if the appeal succeeded or failed. Identify the appeal judge’s reasoning for his decision. Quote and set out in full the 5 most important pargraphs in the appeal judge’s reasoning in full. Write a conclusion summarising the 5 most important points in the case, explaining the result of the appeal. Explain what is the signficance of the case and how it might affect subsequent cases.

It can be seen that the AI, has not followed all of its instructions. I wonder if this is due to a shortcoming in the “prompts” or a limitation in the AI itself. Undoubtedly this tool is a “work in progress” but I think there is scope for much, probably unlimited progress. Who could have foreseen in 1983, the world as we know it today, stitched together by an internet linking billions of devices, each of which is unbelievably more powerful than the humble ZX Spectrum all those years ago?

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