Fishburn landlord faces financial ruin after judge approves £85,000 legal fees in dog bite compensation battle (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Fishburn landlord faces financial ruin after judge approves £85,000 legal fees in dog bite compensation battle
6:42am Wednesday 4th June 2014 in News
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.”
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