Hard on the heels of the case we previously reported on is another case concerning a disappointed student.
A solicitor who failed to convince a court that poor teaching at the University of Oxford cost him a successful legal career has been ordered to pay up to £75,000 in costs.
Faiz Siddiqui who studied modern history at Brasenose College and graduated in 2000, had argued that his 2.1 degree and failure to obtain a first prevented him from landing a job at a top US firm, or a high-flying career at the bar.
The latest judgment, handed down on 16 March, deals with Siddiqui’s permission to appeal and both parties’ arguments in regard to costs – specifically the qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS) rules that apply to personal injury claims.
Siddiqui claimed that an exception to the general rule should apply and that he should be protected from an adverse costs order while the university claimed that costs should be enforceable ‘at least to a significant extent’ if not for the whole amount. Its costs were estimated to be around £300,000.
The judge ruled that Siddiqui should pay 25% of costs ‘subject to a detailed assessment’ as well as meeting his own costs.
‘Whether that amounts to £75,000 will depend on that assessment. My initial view was that an order for one-third of the costs would be appropriate, but to ensure that the legitimate QOCS protection is not lost I have reduced that proportion to 25%,’ the Judge decided.
Whether Mr Siddiqui is ever able to pay those costs remains to be seen given that he is apparently unemployed.
This case highlights the risks that litigants face and demonstrates the advantages to both parties in mediating and trying to settle or narrow the issues. Even the University has expended £300,000 in Costs and the maximum it will recover is 25% so it could lose £225,000. It would have been better from a commercial point of view to offer Mr Siddiqui something earlier before all those costs were incurred, or to use a mediation as an opportunity to explain to him why his case would fail and so why he should withdraw it. Mediation does not just have to be about settlement on the day.