The payment of a sum of money into court, which the defendant believes is reasonable to cover the claim of the action of the plaintiff for debt or damages, constitutes a way to bring an end to the course of the trial and to expedite the procedure. The exercise of this right by the defendant puts the burden upon the shoulders of the plaintiff, since if he continues with the action and after the trial he does not obtain a judgment for an amount higher than the one paid, he will be ordered to pay all the costs for both him and the defendant.
The Civil Procedure Rules provide that in any action for a debt or damages the defendant may at any time upon notice to the plaintiff pay into court a sum of money to satisfy the claim. When the defendant has no defence and disputes the amount of the claim, he has the option to pay an amount into court, which he considers satisfies the claim and he can do so as soon as possible after the filing of an appearance and before judgement is issued.
The payment into court is an effort to reach a settlement, as stated in a judgment issued by the Supreme Court on 14.3.2018, however, strictly speaking, it does not constitute a defence. The court added that when the plaintiff accepts the amount offered, the dispute is resolved as if it was settled, but it does not constitute res judicata nor indicate acceptance of liability. The issue under examination was referred to the Supreme Court through an appeal regarding an alleged wrong judgment of the court of first instance as to costs in an action for damages.
The defendant accepted liability, however he alleged the special damages claimed were unreasonable and that the actual damages were not higher than a certain amount, which had been offered to the plaintiff, but he did not accept it. The defendant finally paid into court a higher amount than the one offered. The court of first instance although it had issued a judgment for a lower amount than the one deposited ordered the defendant to pay all the costs of the proceedings. The Supreme Court disagreed, deciding the court of first instance wrongly interpreted the Civil Procedure Rules. However, they do not require a separation between the claim and the costs, as wrongly decided by the Court of first instance and the payment could have been reasonably divided to cover the costs and the claim.
The Supreme Court interpreted it as generally relating to the procedure of the payment into court for a claim in an effort to bring an end to the continuation of the trial or to minimise its time. A defendant who has no defence, acts correctly if he makes a payment into court as soon as possible. This right is considered valuable for the protection of defendants in general, since it aims to ensure that the plaintiff will not carry on with an abusive action against the defendant, who accepted the claim.
That is so because the rule is that the court, in the exercise of its discretionary power to adjudicate costs, will order the plaintiff who insists to continue the action but who does not obtain more than the sum deposited by the defendant to pay all the costs of both sides created after the payment into court. Consequently, the Supreme Court accepted the appeal, set aside the judgment of the court of first instance and ordered the plaintiff to pay the costs of the trial after the payment into court, including the costs of the appeal.