DOES THE RAF LIVE UP TO ITS MISSION STATEMENT
In an earlier article appearing on this site, we recounted a sequence of events which occurred on our offices concerning the conduct of the Fund in relation to a matter we were pursuing, on behalf of one of our Clients. You will no doubt recall that the learned Presiding Magistrate reserved judgment after hearing evidence and argument on the question as to who ought to pay the costs our Client had incurred with us when it had settled the claim of our Client with another Attorney purporting to be acting on her behalf.
We can now report that judgment was handed down earlier this week. We are now in a position to report the Court's finding on this issue.
The Learned Magistrate found that the facts we had presented were indisputable and were thus accepted. She found that the Fund, well knowing a settlement had been achieved, nevertheless did not instruct its own Attorneys of this with the result that we and the Fund's Attorneys proceeded to bring the matter to Trial on the basis that the claim was disputed on its merits. It was only two weeks before the Trial was due to be heard that it notified us (and not even its own Attorneys) of the settlement it had achieved and implemented prior to us serving summons on the Fund. At that stage the preparation for Trial had reached an advanced stage.
On the basis of these facts the Learned Magistrate confirmed being bound to apply the Law as developed in at least two decided cases in which it was held that a Party to litigation who conducts itself in the litigation in a manner which misleads the Court, should be ordered to pay the costs of the other party occasioned by such misleading conduct. In this case the Learned Magistrate held that when the Fund was served with summons it could have and should have raised the issue of the settlement with us and its Attorneys. If it had so done the costs which we had incurred would not have been incurred. It did not inform us or its Attorneys of the settlement in its Plea and this it could and should have done by pleading accordingly. It did not do so. By only informing us two weeks before the Trial and not even its own Attorneys clearly showed that it had misled the Court, us and its own Attorneys. Thus the Fund was ordered to pay our costs of the action.
By acting in the manner that it did, the Fund incurred a double bill of legal fees as there is little doubt its own Attorneys will not abandon their claim to them as their Client for their costs, and now it has to make payment of our costs as well. The monies it has at its disposal to make payment of claims is derived from a portion of the levy imposed on you and I as motorists each and every time we fill up our tanks with fuel. This is a tax imposed on us as taxpayers. Ultimately the pinch is not felt by those who administer the Fund but on all of us as the taxpayers.
We sincerely express the hope that the sentiments expressed in the new year message of the Chief Executive Officer of the Road Accident Fund, which we reproduced in our prior article, will be taken to heart by those entrusted in administering the Fund's daily activity.
VICKY BOVE AND