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.
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 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”.
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.
The Claimant successfully appealed a decision to refuse a further interim payment on account of costs in a case where liability had been admitted and it was agreed that determination of quantum will not be possible until 2022.
So, you’ve recovered £700,000. But you were claiming £38m. Who really won?
Sir Antony Edwards-Stuart found that the claimant’s recovery in this case whilst “not, of itself, nominal … was a tiny fraction (about 2%) of the sum claimed” and amounted to, at best, a pyrrhic victory. Following an examination of various authorities on the subject of identifying the true winner in cases where the claimant has recovered a small fraction of the amount sought, he determined that the defendant should pay just 20% of the claimant’s costs.
There have been number of cases recently dealing with alleged misconduct in the course of detailed assessment proceedings and applications under CPR 44.11. In this latest decision, an appeal from the Senior Courts Costs Officer, the High Court upheld the decision of Deputy Master Campbell (formerly Master Campbell) that notwithstanding a number of mis-certifications in the Bill of Costs these were all explainable errors none of which amounted to unreasonable or improper conduct under CPR 44.11.
Managing a client’s expectations in litigation can be difficult. Where there is no CFA, the client has the privilege of being able to ignore his/her solicitors’ advice, holding out for whatever result they desire, however unrealistic, or simply having their day in court. However, what can you do about a client who refuses to accept your advice about making a settlement offer when acting under a CFA?