I accept that Mrs A or her solicitor should have been aware of the possibility that the automatic reference of the claim to arbitration could be rescinded by the judge, and that Mrs A by her own admission was not aware of that. However, to some extent at least that was not a possibility with which Mrs A should have needed to concern herself at the outset, because there was no provision in the Rules for court officials to anticipate a judges decision to rescind an automatic reference to arbitration.
Having limited her claim to £3,000, Mrs A and her solicitor were entitled to expect that it would be dealt with by arbitration unless and until the court notified her in writing that the judge was minded to order trial in court.Although in view of the evident complexity of the case it might nevertheless have been recognised as potentially unsuited to arbitration from the outset. I recognise that the issue of form N450 and the notice of the pre-trial hearing might well have alerted Mrsa to the fact that something was amiss.
That her claim was being dealt with Straight Line Depreciation by arbitration, the fact that she did not query the procedures described or the terminology used in the notifications she received strikes me as unremarkable. it is more remarkable that court staff apparently saw no need when issuing such forms in the circumstances of Mrs As case to make sure that she understood that the situation was no longer as she evidently expected it to be.
Nor do I see why Mrs A should have been expected to seek legal advice on the matter; it was in order to minimise such costs that she had limited her claim in the first place.However, I cannot absolve Mrs A from all responsibility for clarifying the position when first notified by the court of the course which the proceedings were to take, in view of the doubt which should have existed from the outset as to the cases suitability for arbitration.The Chief Executive agreed that CS would reimburse 50 per cent of Mrs As reasonable costs.