Kinstellar’s Belgrade office advises the Serbian Orthodox Church on claims before the English High Court
September 2020 – Petar Grozdanović, Counsel at Kinstellar’s Belgrade office, has recently been involved in an English High Court case in which English solicitors initiated a series of claims against the Serbian Orthodox Church. Petar worked together with Paul Donnelly, Samantha Chambers of the UK law firm DWF and lead counsel, Michael McParland QC. The claims involved alleged abuse by clergymen in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia. None of the claimants had a personal connection with England or Wales, nor were they present or resident within the jurisdiction, nor could any of the alleged loss or damage be said to have occurred in the jurisdiction.
The High Court reached its judgment earlier this year pursuant to which all claims were dismissed. Following this judgement, on 13 August 2020, the High Court handed down a “wasted costs” judgment that obliges the claimants' solicitors to compensate the defendant for the costs of the proceeding.
This case shows that courts in UK have wide-reaching powers to penalise solicitors who act unreasonably in litigation and cause opponents to incur costs that they have "no realistic prospect of recovering… from any other party". This case is fact sensitive and novel, but it carries a heavy warning: those who fail to heed constructive attempts from opponents to engage in dialogue on important issues and/or who fail to treat compliance with the UK’s Civil Procedure Rules as anything other than an absolute necessity and of paramount importance do so at their own peril.
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