The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in October, 2018

Defective costs budgets

By on Oct 29, 2018 | 1 comment

The decision of Mr Justice Walker in Page v RGC Restaurants Ltd [2018] EWHC 2688 (QB) provides further important guidance on the costs budgeting process and is essential reading for those involved in costs budgeting. The underlying case was subject to costs budgeting.  The parties decided between themselves, without consulting the Court, that the budgets could be prepared on the basis that it was too soon to budget for trial preparation and trial costs.  The Claimant’s budget therefore included nothing for these phases. The main rule in issue was CPR 3.14: “Unless the court otherwise orders, any party which fails to file a budget despite being required to do so will be treated as having filed a budget comprising only the applicable court fees.” At the CCMC, the master concluded that the failure to serve a budget that included trial preparation and trial estimates amounted to a failure to file a budget that complied with the rules.  He decided that the consequence of this was that the CPR 3.14 sanction applied and made a costs management order limiting the Claimant’s budget accordingly (ie court fees only). On appeal, the master’s decision that there had been a failure to file a compliant budget was upheld.  However, the appeal judge ruled that the master should have gone on to consider whether to disapply the sanction (even in the absence of an application for relief from sanctions) as CPR 3.14 specially provides that the sanction applies “unless the court otherwise orders”.  The judge then applied the Denton principles to the issue of whether the court should have otherwise ordered and did so to the extent that the sanction would not be applied to those phases of the budget that had been properly completed and agreed by the Defendant.  However, the sanction would continue to apply in relation to the trial preparation and trial phases.  Given the matter had been listed for a five day trial, this represents a very serious sanction and is likely to cause a major loss to the Claimant’s solicitors (or possibly professional indemnity insurers) if the matter proceeds to trial. The obvious lesson from this decision is that it is not for parties to decide not to file...

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Timing of payments on account

By on Oct 17, 2018 | 0 comments

The Legal Costs Blog keeps being pulled back to the issue of the timing of orders for interim payments of costs between the parties.The current wording of the relevant rules is to be found at CPR 44.2(8): “Where the court orders a party to pay costs subject to detailed assessment, it will order that party to pay a reasonable sum on account of costs, unless there is good reason not to do so.” and CPR 47.16(1): “The court may at any time after the receiving party has filed a request for a detailed assessment hearing – (a) issue an interim costs certificate for such sum as it considers appropriate; or (b) amend or cancel an interim certificate.” This distinction between an order for a payment on account and an interim costs certificate has been around (with only minor variations) since the introduction of the Civil Procedure Rules.  It is therefore surprising that the extent of any tension between the two rules, if such exists, has remained unresolved for so long. I had always read the two rules to mean there were two stages at which such an order could be made: 1. At the same time an order for costs is being made (usually following a trial). 2. After a request has been filed for a detailed assessment hearing. If an order for a payment on account had not been made when the costs order was being made, the next opportunity to obtain an order for an interim payment would not arise until after a request for a detailed assessment hearing had been made.  This has been the view shared by the authors of Cook on Costs. The last time we looked at this issue was in the case of Ashman v Thomas [2016] EWHC 1810 (Ch) (19 July 2016). Chancery Master Matthews had given judgment and awarded costs to the defendant but not made an order for an interim payment.  Subsequently, when trying to agree the terms of the order, the parties fell out over an attempt by the defendant to include a term for a payment on account of costs, which the claimant objected to.  The matter was referred back to the Master for a decision to...

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