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A case caught my attention recently:

In it, person A commits both breach of contract and also the tort of deceit in lying about an asset they fraudulently sold for about 6 figures. In the civil case, the ostensible claimant is B who eventually reaches a pre-trial settlement of some amount over £30k in "full and final settlement of all claims between A and B from the transaction".

However there is also a 2nd potential claimant C (and perhaps others as yet unknown) who suffered loss due to the transaction being fraudulent. A knew that C would also suffer loss, but no exposure to a claim by C was contemplated by A at the time they settled with B. C and B kniw each other but C has mental health issues which meant they were unable to discuss their own harm suffered with B or combine the claims, and mentally also couldn't deal with their own case at that time. C's claim isn't as large (probably £5-10k), is well evidenced, and is not ruled out by the agreement of A and B. But the immediate rebuttal if C claims will probably be that the cases should have been brought together and is not able to be brought because of failure to follow court rules or combine the cases.

I'm not sure how strong a barrier this would be in UK law, and I'm curious.

Can C bring a case, or is C pre-emptorily barred by the fact that any case should have been brought a the same time and settled with A? Or is there just a penalty in costs? Was C under a duty to combine or just desirable in law to do so? What other arguments would strengthen C's position if the question comes up of failing to combine cases?

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    Based on pure reason (which may be entirely wrong because law is like that) I don't see that C has any barrier to their case beyond having to pay for it to be brought. The case of B against A might be related to C's, but it is not the actual case, and C has every right to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered regardless of whether or what B had already received some. – Nij Oct 12 '16 at 9:52
  • C's case is caused by the same deceit, but not contract (no contractual connection). The harm done is different as well. But I'm not sure if commonsense is enough to know the answer? – Stilez Oct 12 '16 at 14:24
  • Was this an actual case? Reads more like a question set by a university law faculty or by the UK's Bar Council or Law Society for finals. – Peter Point Oct 12 '16 at 22:13
  • Actual case. Unreported though and lower court, can't find the actual ruling if any was ever public – Stilez Oct 12 '16 at 23:06
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A wrongful act may cause damage to any number of people. Each of those people has the right to seek compensation independent of the others.

For example, consider an electrician who incorrectly wires a main switchboard in a communally owned building under contract from the owner's corporation causing a fire which burns the building to the ground. The owner's corporation can sue for breach of contract and the tort of negligence, each individual owner can sue for negligence against the electrician and breach of contract and negligence against the corporation as can each tenant (plus the landlord) and each visitor.

Even if the facts are the same and uncontested, each has a different basis in law and potentially different defendants.

  • In principle yes. That's the sort of thing I'm thinking of. But are there any restrictions or sections in the CPR or procedural guidance which would require such a claimant to at least try and reduce multiple cases by joining an existing case in some circumstances, or penalise them if they could have done so but didn't do it? Or anything that confirms the contrary? – Stilez Oct 12 '16 at 19:10

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