Understanding Part 36 Offers Through Hugh Grant’s Legal Battle

4 May 2024

In the world of litigation, navigating the complexities of settlement offers, court rules, and the potential risks and rewards of proceeding to trial can be a daunting task. The case of Hugh Grant versus The Sun publisher, News Group Newspapers (NGN), serves as a prime example of the strategic decisions involved in legal disputes and the pivotal role of Part 36 offers. This post aims to breakdown the intricacies of Part 36, highlighting why astute company directors and owner-managed businesses must heed the valuable lessons from Grant's legal ordeal.

The Power of Part 36 Offers

At the core of legal strategies in England and Wales is Part 36 of the Civil Procedure Rules, a mechanism designed to encourage parties to settle disputes outside of the courtroom. Put simply, a Part 36 offer is a proposal made by one party to the other to settle the claim, either by paying or accepting a specific amount. The allure of such an offer lies in its ability to shift the costs burden, should the trial outcome be less favourable than the offer proposed.

The Cost Consequences

The principle guiding litigation is straightforward: the loser pays the winner's costs. Yet, Part 36 introduces an exception to this rule. If the offeree (the party the offer is made to) refuses the offer and subsequently fails to achieve a better outcome at trial, they could face severe costs consequences, even if they technically win the case.

In essence, refusing a reasonable Part 36 offer carries significant financial risks, making it a powerful tool in the hands of an offeror.

The Case of Hugh Grant

The lawsuit brought by Hugh Grant against NGN, involving grave accusations of privacy violations, serves as a vivid case study. Grant, known for his roles in movies like "Love Actually," took a stand against NGN for alleged "phone hacking, unlawful information gathering, landline tapping and burglary." Yet, despite his strong position and desire for a day in court to validate his claims, Grant chose to settle the case through a Part 36 offer put forward by NGN.

Why Hugh Grant Settled

Grant's decision to settle, though reluctant, underscores the strategic dilemma faced by litigants when confronted with a Part 36 offer. Accepting the offer meant halting the legal proceedings, avoiding the potentially high costs of losing at trial, and foregoing the chance to have the allegations against NGN conclusively adjudicated.

Grant's move, as he articulated on X (formerly Twitter), stemmed from a calculated avoidance of the financial implications of Part 36. His statement revealed a profound dilemma: the desire for justice weighed against the pragmatic assessment of legal and financial risks.

The Strategic Implications for Business Leaders

For company directors and owner-managed businesses, the implications of Part 36 offers cannot be overstated. Litigation, particularly when driven by principles rather than commercial considerations, can be an onerous venture. The courts, through mechanisms like Part 36, actively discourage litigation pursued out of principle alone due to the considerable expenses involved.

It highlights a critical lesson in legal strategy: the importance of comprehensively evaluating the merits and potential costs of litigation. An experienced solicitor can provide indispensable guidance in this realm, aiding clients in making tactically sound decisions regarding making or rejecting Part 36 offers.


Hugh Grant’s legal contest with NGN is emblematic of the broader challenges and strategic contemplations inherent in litigation. Part 36 offers, with their cost implications and potential to influence the outcome of legal disputes, serve as a reminder of the importance of judicious, well-informed decision-making in the legal process. For business leaders, recognising the potential costs of principle-driven litigation and the strategic value of settlement offers is paramount in navigating the legal landscape effectively.

In litigation, understanding and strategically leveraging tools like Part 36 offers can make the difference between a pyrrhic victory and a prudent, favourable settlement. Hugh Grant’s case not only captivated public attention but also provided a compelling study in legal strategy, demonstrating the complexity of decisions faced by those engaged in the legal process.

Legal disclaimer

The matters contained within this article are intended to be for general information purposes only. This blog does not constitute legal advice, nor is it a complete or authoritative statement of the law in England and Wales and should not be treated as such.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure that the information is correct, no warranty, either express or implied, is given as to its’ accuracy, and no liability is accepted for any errors or omissions.

Before acting on any of the information contained herein, expert advice should always be sought.

© Melissa Worth, May 2024

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