Paul Jeffrey Woodgate v Robert John Woodgate

JurisdictionEngland & Wales
JudgeMaster Pester
Judgment Date30 June 2023
Neutral Citation[2023] EWHC 1640 (Ch)
CourtChancery Division
Docket NumberCase No: PT-2020-000768
Paul Jeffrey Woodgate
Robert John Woodgate

[2023] EWHC 1640 (Ch)


Master Pester

Case No: PT-2020-000768



Property Trusts and Probate List (ChD)

Royal Courts of Justice, Rolls Building

Fetter Lane, London, EC4A 1NL

Nathan Wells (instructed by Gardner Leader LLP) for the Claimant

Charlotte John (instructed by Bird & Lovibond Solicitors) for the Defendant

Hearing date: 20 April 2023


Remote hand-down: This judgment was handed down remotely at 2.30pm on 30 June 2023 by circulation to the parties or their representatives by email and by release to the National Archives.

Master Pester

This judgment addresses one point of dispute on the draft order following my ruling on costs, first circulated to the parties on 10 October 2022.


The Claimant (“Paul”) and the Defendant (“Robert”) are brothers. Paul began these proceedings by way of a Part 8 claim, issued on 1 October 2020, seeking various heads of relief, including Robert's removal as personal representative of their mother's estate, the appointment of an independent administrator, and an account. In June 2021, I made an order which (among other things) removed Robert as executor and appointed a professional administratrix to conclude the administration of their parents' estates. At the same time, Robert was ordered to provide an inventory and account of his administration of both estates.


Robert duly filed an account of his administration. Paul raised various objections. On 21 July 2022, there was a further hearing to determine the outstanding issues on the account. At the end of that hearing, with a view to saving the parties further costs (which were already considerable), I invited the parties to file written submissions on costs, and indicated that I would determine matters on the papers, without a hearing.


I circulated a ruling on costs on 10 October 2022. The parties have agreed an order, reflecting the points I made in that ruling, including that Robert should pay Paul's costs, such costs to be subject to detailed assessment on the standard basis if not agreed. However, Paul says he should have permission to apply to the court for additional relief under CPR Part 36 “if it is subsequently established that [Robert] has failed to beat the Part 36 offer”. What is suggested is that Paul would apply for any additional costs relief under r. 36.17 “within 28 days of the administratrix providing formal written confirmation to [Paul] of the final value of [Paul]'s beneficial interest” in his mother's estate.


I have no doubt that such permission should be refused, for the following reasons.


First, I doubt whether the offer on which Paul relies is properly a Part 36 offer at all. Part 36 is a self-contained and highly prescriptive code: see Greenwich Millennium Village Ltd v Essex Services Group plc [2014] EWHC 1099 (TCC), at [39], per Coulson J (as he then was). Moreover, the particular status of Part 36 as a prescriptive regime with draconian, or at least severe, consequences for non-compliance supports the proposition that the court should be wary of liberally construing its rules to achieve a pragmatic answer: see Hertel v Saunders [2018] 1 WLR 5852, CA, at [37].


In this case, Paul's offer to settle was made on the standard form, N242A, dated 30 May 2022. The details of the offer stated “The Claimant shall accept the sum of £351,297.50 from the Defendant in full and final settlement of the remaining claims brought by the Claimant in proceedings case number PT-2020-000768.” The reference to “full and final settlement of the remaining claims … in [the] proceedings” (emphasis added) would appear, on my reading, to be a reference to what were the outstanding claims at the time when the offer was made, that is, a claim for an account and for occupation rent in relation to the principal asset in the estate, a property known as “Fernbank”. Those were the issues which were still live at the time when the offer was made. It was those issues on which I ruled, at the hearing on 21 July 2022.


However, judging from the submissions made on behalf of both Paul and Robert, that does not appear to be how the parties understood the offer. Instead, the offer appears to have been based on the assumption that Paul was offering Robert a chance to buy Paul's 50% entitlement in the estates for the price of £351,297.60. However, that is not the relief that Paul was either claiming or could obtain from Robert in these proceedings. Looking at the Part 8 claim by which these proceedings were commenced, Paul claims a wide variety of relief, but nothing is said as to the ownership of Fernbank, which is the principal asset within the estate (and where Robert has been living throughout). Indeed, the parties' interest in Fernbank itself has never been an issue in the proceedings, although there has always been an issue as to whether Robert ought to pay occupation rent to the estate in respect of it, and if so, in what amount.


Subject perhaps to arguments about certainty of terms, such an offer is a perfectly valid offer of settlement, but it is not a Part 36 offer. CPR r. 36.2(3) provides that “A Part 36 offer may be made in respect of the whole, or part of, or any issue that arises in (a) a claim, counterclaim or other additional claim …”...

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