A short reminder from The Honourable Mr Justice Calver that an award of indemnity basis costs does not hand the receiving party a blank cheque.
In this short judgment Mr Christopher Hancock QC (sitting as a Judge of the High Court) confirmed the position where a party has a contractual entitlement to costs.
The defendants in this anti-competition and breach of contract case sought security for costs against the claimant.
The claimant agreed with D4-D8 to provide security for 65% of their incurred and anticipated costs. However, D4-D8 sought security at a higher level than this based upon a potential award of indemnity costs given the “wide ranging and serious allegations of impropriety, which may include deceit”.
The defendants’ case was based largely on the decisions in Danilina v Chernukhin  EWHC 2503 (Comm) (which we reported on here) and Re Ingenious Litigation  EWHC 235 (Ch). In both cases the court awarded security at 75%.
Another decision on indemnity costs arising from a failure to mediate.
Having beaten his own offer at trial the Claimant was awarded indemnity costs under CPR 36.17(4)(b) from 21 days after the date on which it was made.
The Claimant also claimed indemnity costs on a broader basis and for a longer period by reason of the Defendant’s failure to engage in settlement discussions. or contemplate any form of ADR.
Following the dismissal of all claims by the High Court in this construction dispute, and an award of costs on the standard basis to the appellant (defendant), the Court of Appeal had to determine three issues, namely:
a) Whether it was a case in which the respondents’ pursuit of what were said to be “speculative, weak, opportunistic or thin claims” could properly be described as out of the norm such as to warrant an order for indemnity costs.
b) Whether the respondents’ failures to accept and subsequently to beat the appellant’s Part 36 offer, made at a very early stage in the proceedings, also meant (either separately or taken cumulatively with the pursuit of these particular claims) that an order for indemnity costs was warranted.
c) The relevance, if any, of the fact that the appellant’s approved costs budget was said to be £415,000, but that any assessment on the indemnity basis would start at the appellant’s actual costs figure of not less than £724, 265.
This was a decision of Jacobs J as to the entitlement of the defendant following discontinuance to an award of indemnity costs and a payment on account pursuance to CPR 44.2(8). The Court held that there was nothing “out of the norm” in the claimant’s conduct of the proceedings (in which they sought the enforcement of a Swedish arbitration award) up until a hearing of the defendant’s application to set aside in June 2017 when Robin Knowles J found that the defendant’s three original grounds of challenge were no longer maintainable, but that they had had established a prima facie case that the award was obtained by fraud.
This was another in a line of cases which confirms that a Part 36 Offer cannot contain any provision as to costs. Disagreeing with Hildyard J in Proctor & Gamble Co v Svenska Celluslosa HHJ Paul Matthewsheld that he was bound by the Court of Appeal decisions in Mitchell v James and French v Groupama, neither of which had been cited to Hildyard J, that no term as to costs should be included in a Part 36 offer, even if to the benefit of the offeror.
This was a costs decision following determination of 23 common issues between the parties in group litigation between several hundred sub-postmasters and The Post Office. It dealt with a number of issues, including:
Whether the costs of the Common Issues should be reserved;
Who should pay the costs of the Common Issues and in what proportion;
Whether the costs be assessed on the standard or on the indemnity basis;
An application for an interim payment on account; and
Timing of the detailed assessment of the costs.
Following proceedings for an account by the claimants as executors of what they had done with the deceased’s estate HJJ Matthews ordered that defendant do pay 80% of the claimant’s costs. He was then asked to decide whether the claimants should be entitled to an indemnity for the remaining 20% balance from the estate. Concluding that whilst they had lost on some issues the claimants had not behaved improperly or unreasonably and in accordance with section 31 of the Trustee Act 2000 (applied to executors by section 35) and CPR Part 46 Practice Direction, paragraph 1 they were entitled to such an indemnity.