27 November, 2013

Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd

Filed UnderLegal Costs  

The Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed the appeal in the costs budgeting case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1526 (part of the “Plebgate” saga).

Although the decision is itself crucially important for costs budgeting purposes – fail to serve and file a budget on time and your costs will be limited to court fees only, with no real hope of relief from sanctions – it has much wider implications for the future of civil litigation. The courts can now be expected to take a very robust approach to compliance with rules. Failures to comply will be punished harshly. Relief from sanctions applications will be doomed to failure unless unusual circumstances can be shown for the breach. A mere failure to show prejudice will not come close to being sufficient.

Conclusion of the Court’s judgment:

“In the result, we hope that our decision will send out a clear message. If it does, we are confident that, in time, legal representatives will become more efficient and will routinely comply with rules, practice directions and orders. If this happens, then we would expect that satellite litigation of this kind, which is so expensive and damaging to the civil justice system, will become a thing of the past.”


13 Responses to “Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd”

  1. Anonymous on November 27th, 2013 11:45 am

    Have you not put your clocks back over there??

    Will be good to see the streams of new converts to budgets now that the mighty have spoken.

  2. Anonymous on November 27th, 2013 12:32 pm

    Someone had better tell [a certain Master*] because he’s still granting relief from sanctions at the drop of a hat.

    *Edited by Webmaster

  3. ACL student on November 27th, 2013 12:39 pm

    This link takes you to a different case on bailii??!

  4. Simon Gibbs on November 27th, 2013 12:44 pm

    Link corrected.

  5. The white book on November 27th, 2013 1:47 pm

    However the Defendants can still miss key dates like filing a defence and the Court will still allow the defence in the interests of justice.

    A shocking decision and no doubt every independent cost draftsman will be looking to increase their PI insurance.

    Dealing the pressures of a file load pre April was difficult however post April is now too much. We are all human and we will ALL make mistakes/miss deadlines, does that really warrant a strike out?

  6. Ticklemebills on November 27th, 2013 3:51 pm

    @The white book – why should independent costs draftsmen have to increase their PI insurance ? At the end of the day, the client signs off the budget in the same way that it signs of points of dispute and a bill of costs so as long as the c/d communicates with his client about deadlines, it won’t be the c/d’s fault. Just comply with the rules, don’t take on a deadline that you can’t meet and don’t buy into this clap trap about “only the biggest firms of costs lawyers will survive”.

  7. Ticklemebills on November 27th, 2013 3:53 pm

    And I am intrigued about the Master’s name that Webmaster blocked out at 12.32 pm.

  8. Chris on November 27th, 2013 5:17 pm

    I don’t understand the surprise and shock following this decision. The Court of Appeal were never going to overturn the initial finding and they were correct not to. Rules are rules, and given the nature of the updated overriding objective, which everyone should have been aware of, they only have themselves to blame.

  9. Anonymous on November 27th, 2013 5:18 pm

    You will never guess what! I have only just had to rush down to a client’s office to prepare an urgent out of time Budget!! You couldnt make this stuff up!! happy days. I of course made sure they agreed to pay me irrespective of any court decision having regard to Mitchell!!! I certainly will not be increasing my PI. I have a diary, unlike most solicitors by the sounds of it!!!

  10. abcde on November 28th, 2013 9:38 am

    Where does this sit with the SCCO guide and 8.3 applications? I appreciate that there is no set sanction on 8.3.

    Is the court going to view repeated failures as trivial?

  11. Ticklemebills on November 28th, 2013 12:23 pm

    I think that the SCCO will regard 8.3 for what it is – i.e. a complete pile of pants. That said, I would not want to risk not making one in the present climate.

  12. Jon on December 5th, 2013 12:36 pm

    Will it be harder now to set aside a Default Costs Certificate unless you can show that the failure to serve PODs in time was due to a myocardial infaction?

  13. Simon Gibbs on December 5th, 2013 12:40 pm

    Good question Jon and one I intend to write a detailed post on shortly.

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