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Archive for June, 2014

The CPR - take them seriously!

As anyone familiar with the Ministry of Justice’s civil procedure rules (’CPR’) will know, the civil courts have a considrable management role in any proceedings issued.  We looked briefly in our February 2013 newsletter at some of the CPR changes to be introduced in April of that year and commented that cost saving was one of the main drivers for change.

Pursuant to Part 3 of the CPR, the courts’ cost management powers require costs budgets to be prepared, exchanged with those for other parties and filed at court prior to the first case management hearing.  These budgets, prepared usually by the parties’ solicitors, set out the proposed costs, fees and disbursements to be incurred in conducting the case including, for instance, the fees to be charged by expert witnesses and counsel.  Unless, the court orders otherwise, any party which fails to file its budget will be deemed to have done so comprising of court fees only (Part 3, rule 14).  Hence, even if the party wins the litigation and is awarded its costs, it can only recover from other parties, the court fees expended.

How seriously do the courts enforce these orders? ‘Very seriously’ is the answer.  As the Court of Appeal has commented, to do otherwise “would give rise to uncertainty and complexity and stimulate satelitte litigation”.  In consequence, the hapless Mr Mitchell (he of ‘plebgate’ fame) found a High Court Master’s decision to enforce Part 3 rule 14 of the CPR when Mr Mitchell’s solicitors failed to file its costs budget within the time fame set out in the rules, upheld by the Appeal Judges. Anticipated costs of £506,425 were reduced to court fees only (see Andrew Mitchell MP v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537).

Ignore the CPR at your peril!

Wish to hear more?  Ask Hatherleigh Training.