UK, small claims court question.
Is it permissible to split a large claim into several small claims, against multiple defendants, arguing a different cause of action in each?
Consider this hypothetical and entirely fictional case:
Adam inherits a valuable piece of art (e.g. a painting). Adam has no interest in art, and decides to sell.
Bill contracts to handle the sale. He promises to sell the painting for a minimum of £120,000, and to charge a commission of £10,000.
Charlie is a professional art restorer. Bill hands the painting to Charlie for cleaning. But Charlie makes a mistake, and damages the painting, reducing the value. It subsequently sells for £90,000.
Bill deducts £20,000 from the sale price, double the agreed commission, and sends Adam the balance of £70,000.
Adam is outraged. He had been expecting a payment of £110,000 but has ended up £40,000 down.
Adam consults Dave the lawyer. Dave advises that he might have to spend £50-60,000 to recover the loss, might not win, might not recover costs, etc.
So Adam considers a claim in the small claims court. The UK small claims limit is £10,000, but Adam has a plan. He will make three separate claims, asking for maximum damages in each. First, he will sue Charlie for damaging the painting. Second, he will sue Bill for damaging the painting. (vicarious liability) Third, he will sue Bill for overcharging on the fees.
Is Adam's plan legally permissible? Basically, is it allowed to
- sue two different people for the same negligence, and
- sue one person twice for two different things.
Can a big claim be split up into smaller claims like this?
Note - for clarity, I'm not interested in Adam's dispute. I don't need to know about overcharging and the law of contracts, or liability for damage in tort law. Just the point about splitting up the case. And the case I described is just an example. Make the answer as general as possible, not restricted to this particular case.
And, as a final reminder, the jurisdiction is England and Wales.
Not asking for legal advice, you are not my lawyer, etc.