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Sharing cost deadline burden

With complex case loads on the go, it comes as no surprise that new rules on submitting costs budgets to the Courts are causing headaches for personal injury professionals. Premextra examines four of the significant cases which indicate the direction of travel and provides details of Premex's costs budgeting process. 

The best known costs case is Henry V News Group Newspapers which came before the April 2013 ruling.  In this case the Court of Appeal held that there was good reason to depart from the approved costs budget.  Lord Justice Moore-Bick said an approved budget was not to be taken as a licence to conduct litigation in an unnecessarily expensive way and stressed that just because costs fall within the approved budget it does not mean they are reasonable or proportionate.  The same Judge heard Troy Foods v Manton  and suggested that it was wrong for judges to approve elements of budgets simply because they do not seem "grossly disproportionate".  It was clear that Lord Justice Moore-Bick wanted further clarification and the case was expected to go to the Court of Appeal in order to establish the principles, however the opportunity was lost when the case was withdrawn. 

In Murray v Neil Dowlman Architecture Limited the court revised the budget on the basis of special circumstances as the Claimant was guilty of nothing more than failing to tick a box.  However, Coulson J. stated that this was an exceptional outcome, indicating that a tough approach should be expected. 

The High Court rejected a bid by a successful defendant to nearly double its approved costs budget of almost £270k after trial in Elvanite Full Circle Ltd v AMEC Earth & Environmental (UK) Ltd. Coulson J. stated there had to be good reason to depart from an approved costs budget and making a mistake was unlikely to be a good reason.  

Coulson specifically noted that the expert fees being underestimated or the expert taking longer than anticipated were not good reasons for departing from an approved costs budget. However, he did note that the only explanation for departing from the approved costs budget (in this case) would have been to the extent the expert's fees had been incurred to deal with one aspect of the case that had reasonably not been thought at the outset would be the subject of expert evidence.

On the one hand, these cases are demonstrating that the courts are taking an unforgiving approach when it comes to costs management.  However, there is still a lot of uncertainty and there is a need for further guidance.   

In light of the revised CPR rules, Premex understands that it is imperative to provide an accurate and proportionate medical expert cost in line with the stringent court deadlines.  Please email costbudgets@premex.com with details of the expert, their speciality, the volume of records (if known) and a brief overview of the injury to obtain your cost budget.