Fishburn landlord faces financial ruin after judge approves £85,000 legal fees in dog bite compensation battle

Darlington and Stockton Times: Paul Race, from Fishburn, with his dog Rocky. Paul Race, from Fishburn, with his dog Rocky.

A LANDLORD whose dog bit a postman has been ordered to pay legal fees of £85,000 after his attempts to fight a compensation bid failed.

Paul Race believes he is the victim of the no win, no fee compensation culture and says the “disproportionate” costs claimed by the postman’s legal team, Simpson Millar Solicitors, will result in him losing his home.

The law firm, however, has accused Mr Race, of Fishburn, County Durham, of being deliberately obstructive, rejecting numerous offers to settle and mediate outside court.

Mr Race has always denied his dog, Rocky, attacked postman Robert Townend in April 2008.

He blames differing accounts of what happened and disputes over whether the dog belonged to him or his former partner for prolonging proceedings.

At Middlesbrough County Court last week, Mr Race argued that the fees of £68,532 were excessive but the bill - which now stands at £85,000 - was approved.

The 64-year-old said: “I wanted to fight my case but the fees are totally disproportionate. The properties I own are in negative equity. I will have no choice but to sell my home. It is not right. Rocky is a gentle dog. The children love him.”

He claimed that the pointer setter cross merely nipped Mr Townsend after the postman hit him with his satchel.

The postman fiercely denied this and, last January, a judge at Middlesbrough County Court ruled in his favour, awarding £1,500 compensation.

Mr Race took the matter to the Civil Appeal Court in London but was unsuccessful.

He has 56 days to pay the new amount, which includes the cost of solicitors, medical experts, witnesses, administrative expenses and a success fee that doubled the amount owed.

The Jackson Reforms, introduced last April to remove the claiming of certain fees and premiums from the losing party in civil litigation do not apply, as the incident pre-dates this.

A spokesperson for Simpson Millar Solicitors said: “Mr Race was offered the opportunity to settle his case on two separate occasions and to pay legal costs of just £4,061.02 on May 9, 2011, which he refused.

"Instead, he insisted to run the case to a two-day trial – changing his defence on three occasions along the way, aborting a trial date and unsuccessfully appealing the original trial judgement.”

The spokesperson said five witnesses had described Rocky as aggressive, adding: “To this day, Mr Race has still failed to pay the victim the compensation to which he is entitled.”

Comments (7)

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7:35am Wed 4 Jun 14

greenfinger says...

I look forward to seeing more cases of this nature now the dog laws have changed.
I look forward to seeing more cases of this nature now the dog laws have changed. greenfinger
  • Score: 13

9:41am Wed 4 Jun 14

Northcroft says...

how do the many feckless dolewaller dog owners pay if this happens to them ? So many "men of straw"

The real criminals (as always) are the overpaid lawyers etc
how do the many feckless dolewaller dog owners pay if this happens to them ? So many "men of straw" The real criminals (as always) are the overpaid lawyers etc Northcroft
  • Score: -7

4:18pm Wed 4 Jun 14

punkrocker says...

stubborn old fool. had many chances but knows better than everyone else.
stubborn old fool. had many chances but knows better than everyone else. punkrocker
  • Score: 13

9:58pm Wed 4 Jun 14

shayman says...

There will be little sympathy for anyone who knows mr Race he's not the poor hard done by pensioner he's trying to make out.
There will be little sympathy for anyone who knows mr Race he's not the poor hard done by pensioner he's trying to make out. shayman
  • Score: 23

7:45am Thu 5 Jun 14

santa59 says...

he will have to sell one of his many houses he has
he will have to sell one of his many houses he has santa59
  • Score: 12

7:21pm Thu 5 Jun 14

Border Terrier says...

The folly of Arrogance!
The folly of Arrogance! Border Terrier
  • Score: 7

11:02pm Sat 7 Jun 14

superposh says...

why should he sell his home to pay the bill when he owns other houses?
he had several chances to settle (unless the solicitors are being untruefull)
but thought he would be a clever sod and try to win the case.

PAY UP & SHUT UP!
why should he sell his home to pay the bill when he owns other houses? he had several chances to settle (unless the solicitors are being untruefull) but thought he would be a clever sod and try to win the case. PAY UP & SHUT UP! superposh
  • Score: 5

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