In March last year we reported on the decision in Salmon v Barts Health NHS Trust  wherein HHJ Dight held that if 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, this is, in and of itself, capable of being a ‘good reason to depart’ under CPR 3.18(b) thus opening that phase to a traditional line by line assessment.
This was a decision regarding alleged mis-certification of a costs budget. The case bore similarities to the facts in Tucker v Griffiths and Hampshire University Hospitals NHS Trust, another decision of Master Rowley. Both parties were critical of Master Rowley’s decision in Tucker, the defendant complaining that it was too lenient and the claimant contending that it had been too harsh as a finding of misconduct under CPR 44.11 had not been warranted on the facts.
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.
Master Rowley tackles a number preliminary points in a detailed assessment arising from a complex clinical negligence claim, including an alleged mis-certification of the claimant’s budget giving rise to an application under CPR 44.11, level of success fee and hourly rates and ‘good reason to depart’.
Master Rowley becomes the latest costs judge to tackle the meaning of ‘good reason to depart’ from an approved costs budget on detailed assessment, specifically in relation to hourly rates and valuation of claim.
On a detailed assessment of costs a reduction in hourly rates of the incurred costs is not a ‘good reason’ to depart from the budget in respect of the budgeted (future) costs.
Davis LJ endorses Master Whalan’s approach to detailed assessment where costs budgets have been agreed or approved