Court Rules on Cost Sanctions and Permission to Appeal in Wragg v Opel Case

Citation: [2024] EWHC 110 (KB)
Judgment on


The case of Ethan Thomas Wragg & Ors v Opel Automobile GmbH & Ors [2024] EWHC 110 (KB) concerns the determination of consequential matters following a judgment pertaining to applications by the German Defendants for setting aside orders concerning service out of jurisdiction, non-disclosure of limitation defences, and permission to appeal. These issues fall under the realm of civil procedure and touch upon basic principles of litigation such as the duty of full disclosure, the consequences of non-disclosure, cost sanctions, and the principles underpinning permission to appeal.

Key Facts

The consequential matters arose following the applications judgment [2023] EWHC 2632 (KB). The defendants, Opel Automobile GmbH and related parties, had filed multiple applications in response to claims served out of jurisdiction, alleging undisclosed limitation defences among other issues. The hearing on January 11, 2024, presided over by Master Fontaine, addressed four consequential matters: cost sanctions against the Claimants for non-disclosure, the appropriate costs order regarding the Defendants’ applications, the application for permission to appeal by the Defendants, and the wording and directions for the consequential order.

Several key legal principles emerge in this case:

  1. Duty of Full Disclosure: It is the responsibility of the party applying for service out of jurisdiction to fully disclose any limitations or defences that could influence a judge’s decision. Non-disclosure can lead to significant consequences, including cost sanctions.

  2. Cost Sanctions: The court has the authority to impose sanctions for material non-disclosure. These can take the form of ordering indemnity costs against the non-disclosing party and adjusting the costs awards relative to the proportion of successful and unsuccessful issues.

  3. Indemnity Costs: Costs on the indemnity basis don’t have to be proportional, but must be reasonable, with the burden of proof shifting to the party arguing for a reduction.

  4. Permission to Appeal: Under CPR 52.6(1)(a) and (b), permission may be given if there is a real prospect of success or if there is a compelling reason for the appeal to be heard. Decision-making is highly discretionary and appellate intervention is generally limited to instances of clear error in the application of the law.

  5. Principles Governing Interim Payments on Account of Costs: According to CPR 44.2(8), a reasonable sum on account of costs is generally ordered, barring good reason. Factors influencing the amount involve the costs’ proportionality, the basis of the cost orders (standard vs. indemnity), and any potential off-set due to reciprocal costs entitlement.

  6. Reference to Precedent: The court makes references to past cases, such as the consideration of appropriate hourly rates in commercial litigation (Samsung Electronics and ors v LG and ors [2022] EWCA Civ 466). This indicates adherence to a judicial consistency in determining reasonable legal costs.


The court ruled as follows:

  1. The Claimants were ordered to pay the Defendants 40% of their application costs on an indemnity basis due to material non-disclosure related to limitation issues.
  2. The Defendants were ordered to pay the Claimants 20% of their application costs on the standard basis, pending a ruling on whether such an award would infringe the indemnity principle.
  3. No order for costs regarding the remaining issues was made.
  4. The Defendants’ application for permission to appeal was denied, with the reasons being the discretionary nature of the original judgment and the lack of a prospect for a different outcome or any compelling reason for the appeal.


The judgment in Ethan Thomas Wragg & Ors v Opel Automobile GmbH & Ors reflects the English courts’ adherence to the principles of full disclosure and appropriate sanctioning for non-compliance. The court highlighted the importance of material factors in jurisdictional matters and emphasized the duty of parties to inform the court proactively of any factual errors. The refusal to grant permission to appeal underscores the reluctance to interfere with discretionary decisions at a lower level unless clear errors of law are present. Notably, the case also illustrates the courts’ pragmatic approach to managing litigation costs in complex commercial litigation, balancing the duty of proportionality with the realities of legal representation and workloads involved in group actions.