Another important reminder of the importance of giving your client the best costs information possible throughout the life of your retainer. In this case the senior costs judge Master Gordon-Saker determined at first instance that notwithstanding the fact that the former client had not placed any reliance on any of the estimates provided to it by the solicitors, and acknowledging that unforeseen work had been undertaken, he was entitled to use the estimate as a yardstick in determining the reasonable costs payable as between solicitor and client. On appeal, Ms Clare Ambrose (Sitting as a Deputy Judge of the High Court) declined to interfere with 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.
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.
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.
On appeal against decisions made in the course of a detailed assessment in the Senior Courts Costs Office Mrs Justice Yip found (amongst other things) that the Deputy Master had been wrong to go behind the strict wording of the order for costs in order to give effect to what she believed the maker of the order had intended, rather than to what it actually said.
Master McCloud exercised her discretion and declined to award the claimant a 10% ‘additional amount’ under CPR 36.17(4) on grounds that it would be disproportionate and unjust to do so where the claimant had beaten its own offer by just £7,000 on a bill assessed at £431,813.05.
Master Nagalingam directs a claimant to redraw his bill of costs of almost £1m in phases to comply with the requirements of CPR 47 PD 5.8(8). The claimant had argued that due to considerable developments in the case, the case managing court had accepted that updated costs budgets were necessary and these had duly been prepared and served. However, the revised budgets did not reach the stage of a costs management hearing and were never approved. Notwithstanding, the claimant argued, as the revised budgets were ordered by the Court the initial approved budget was deemed to be superseded, there was therefore no approved budget in place and CPR 47 PD 5.8(8) did not apply. Thus a phased bill of costs was not required. The Master disagreed.
Master Leonard considers the extent to which a receiving party can recover the costs of attending an inquest in circumstances where an admission of liability is made prior to it taking place.