Misconduct in Abduction Case Leads to Substantial Damages and Strict Legal Consequences

Citation: [2024] EWHC 650 (KB)
Judgment on


The case of Christopher Bell v Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis deals with claims arising from the abduction of a child, ROC, by his mother, ALK, who took the child to Brazil. Central to the matter is the failure of the police to act appropriately to prevent the abduction and their alleged assistance in facilitating it. This article analyzes the key topics, legal principles applied, and the outcomes as set by Mrs Justice Hill in the cited judgment.

Key Facts

The claimant, Christopher Bell, initiated the claim post-abduction of his son and contended breaches of the Human Rights Act 1998 with respect to Article 8 rights and negligence on the part of the Metropolitan Police. The judgment found in favor of the claimant with damages awarded totaling £137,999.49. Two Part 36 offers made by the claimant prior to trial, the defendant’s conduct during litigation, and post-judgment submissions delineate the principal issues necessitating analysis.

The legal principles applied in this case revolve around the Part 36 offer mechanism, principles of enhanced interest on damages, and the award of costs on an indemnity basis set forth by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR).

Part 36 Offers

The case’s judgment elaborates on the implications of Part 36 offers—one made on 30 August 2019 for £95,000, and another on 17 June 2020 for £50,000—which were not accepted by the defendant. Per CPR 36.17(1)(b), as the claimant obtained a judgment at least as advantageous as the proposals, this triggers certain costs and interest implications for the defendant.

Interest and Additional Sums

CPR 36.17(4) stipulates a claimant who beats their Part 36 offer is entitled to interest on the money awarded at up to 10% above base rate, costs on an indemnity basis from the date of expiry of the relevant Part 36 offer, interest on those costs at up to 10% above base rate, and an additional amount calculated by applying a prescribed percentage to the sum awarded, not exceeding £75,000.

Conduct of Parties and Interest Calculations

The court, in applying the principles from OMV Petrom SA v. Glencore International AG [2017] EWCA Civ 195, considered factors such as the length of time the defendant delayed, conduct concerning continued defense of the claim, and the disruption caused by their refusal to negotiate. Mrs Justice Hill found the defendant’s conduct during the litigation, lack of engagement in settlement attempts, and continued defense without grounds justified the maximum interest rate and indemnity costs.

Indemnity Basis Costs

On indemnity costs, the principle reiterated in the case is that there is no special rule for public authorities in civil litigation, as referenced from R (on the application of Hysaj) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department [2014] EWCA Civ 1633. Costs ordered on an indemnity basis allow for the recovery of costs above the budgeted amounts if this does not result in injustice against the defendant.


The court ordered the following based on the legal principles applied:

  • Enhanced interest at the maximum rate of 10% above base rate on certain damages from 19 September 2019.
  • Payment of an additional sum calculated as 10% of a certain portion of the damages awarded.
  • Payment of the Claimant’s costs on an indemnity basis from the expiry date of the Part 36 offer period, along with interest on those costs.
  • A payment on account of costs to 90% of the Claimant’s approved budget.


In conclusion, the case underscores the consequences of failing to engage in reasonable settlement discussions and responding appropriately to Part 36 offers. The ruling demonstrates the strict application of CPR 36.17 in awarding enhanced interest rates on damages and indemnity basis costs against defendants who decline reasonable Part 36 settlement offers. The judgment by Mrs Justice Hill exemplifies the courts’ considerations on conduct, proportionality, and the concerns of other court users in litigation.