Entries by Toby Moreton

Master wrong to set a “low bar” to escaping fixed costs

A Master (sitting as deputy costs judge) was wrong to set a “low bar” when determining whether a case had met the “exceptional circumstances” threshold in CPR 45.29J for the purpose of escaping fixed costs. The matter had started in the portal but later exited when it was discovered that the impact of the claimant’s injuries was greater than had been initially thought. It ultimately settled for £42,000. The Master determined that the case was “on balance outside the general run of such cases” that entered the portal and as such cleared the “low bar” of exceptionality. Mr Justice Stewart overturned this decision.

HHJ Dight upholds Master’s proportionality finding

Following his more widely reported decision on CPR 3.18(b) HHJ Dight declined to interfere with the Master’s ruling on proportionality where he reduced the claimant’s assessed costs from £52,000 to £40,000. The paying party appealed on grounds that the Master did not go far enough. She was unsuccessful.

Relief from sanctions granted where deadline missed by “a few hours”

Relief from sanctions was granted in a case where the appellant had failed to meet the deadline for payment of a sum which had been a condition for setting aside a Default Costs Certificate. After ruling on the principles of appropriation it was held that payment deadline had been missed by just a few hours. This had “made no practical difference whatever” and “it would be disproportionate and unjust to deprive the appellant of an opportunity to challenge the Default Costs Certificate”.

CPR 3.18(b): Good reason to depart?

HHJ Dight finds on appeal that the fact that the sum claimed on assessment in any given phase of a bill is lower than the budgeted figure for that phase, because the anticipated work had not been completed and/or by virtue of the indemnity principle, is itself capable of being a ‘good reason to depart’ under CPR 3.18(b). Once CPR 3.18(b) had been invoked it was then open to the paying party to challenge the figure which was then being claimed by the receiving party, and they did not have to assert a further good reason to enable the court to do so.