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Court of Appeal clarifies when multiple claimants can bring claims in a single claim form

The Court of Appeal has recently handed down a notable decision relevant to group litigation concerning when multiple claimants may bring claims in one claim form. In Morris & Ors v Williams & Co Solicitors [2024] EWCA Civ 376 the Court of Appeal has disapproved of previous restrictive tests and provided helpful clarification on this issue.


The case concerned allegations of negligence against a firm of solicitors, who it was argued had breached its duty properly to advise the claimants in relation to investing in property development projects. The 134 claimants issued their claims in a single claim form. The defendant applied to strike out the claims on the grounds that it was an abuse of process, or an obstruction to the just disposal of the proceedings, or the claim form did not comply with CPR Part 7.3.

CPR 7.3 provides “[a] claimant may use a single claim form to start all claims which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings”. CPR 19.1 provides “[a]ny number of claimants may be joined as parties to a claim”.

These rules were considered in the case of Abbott v Ministry of Defence [2023] EWHC 1475 (KB). The court in that case suggested claimants seeking to bring claims in one claim form were required to show that the determination of common issues in a claim by multiple claimants under CPR 19.1 would bind all parties, using a single claim form would have “real significance” and would lead to “real progress” compared to issuing each claim separately.

At first instance, the court dismissed the solicitors’ strike out application on the basis that the tests in Abbott were satisfied.

The defendant appealed on the basis that Abbott was wrongly decided. It argued the words of CPR 19.1 and 7.3 severely restrict the situations in which numerous claimants can bring separate claims in one claim form. In particular, the words “[a] claimant” in 7.3 is singular and does not include the plural, and the word “claim” in 19.1 means “a cause of action“, and not, as the court held in Abbott, “proceedings“.

The Court of Appeal decision

The Court of Appeal, led by the Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Voss, unanimously dismissed the appeal. It rejected the Abbott tests as wring in law but nonetheless decided that the claimants should be allowed to proceed under a single claim form.

It construed a “claim” to mean “proceedings”, “a claimant” to include the plural, and decided that “conveniently” is a simple English word.

Sir Geoffrey Vos concluded, “19.1 and 7.3 mean what they say. Any number of claimants or defendants may be joined as parties to proceedings, and claimants may use a single claim form to start all claims which can be conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings. The court will determine what is convenient according to the facts of every case. There is no test beyond the words of rule 7.3, even if it is clear that cases within the old O15 r4 and cases where common issues will bind all the claimants will obviously be capable of being conveniently disposed of in the same proceedings”.

The Court of Appeal decided the claims brought by the claimants in their single claim form could be conveniently disposed of in the proceedings.


The Court of Appeal’s decision helpfully clarifies the law on the use of a single claim form by multiple claimants following some confusion which was introduced by the Abbott decision last year.

It could assist groups of claimants who may not be able to satisfy the requirements of other group litigation procedures, namely Group Litigation Orders (which require claims to have “common or related issues of fact or law”) and representative actions (which require a representative to have the “same interest” as the class it represents).

However, the Court of Appeal did say it would be useful if the Civil Procedure Rules Committee were to consider whether it would have been better and clearer if a requirement for common issues of the kind found in the pre-CPR regime had been carried over. It will be interesting to see whether that suggestion is taken up.

If you would like to discuss this issue or any other group litigation or wider disputes matter, please send an enquiry to our expert team today.

Your key contact

Darren Kidd


Bristol and London
Darren is an experienced litigator specialising in high value and complex disputes. He has particular experience of structuring and progressing group litigation and litigation funding.
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