Revising your budget – what is a ‘significant development in the litigation’?

Budgets can only be revised if there has been a ‘significant development in the litigation’.  Unfortunately the CPR is devoid of any comment or explanation regarding what a ‘significant development in the litigation’ is.  In the recent case of Churchill -v- Boot (22/04/16) the court determined that the budget could not be revised because no such development had occurred.

The value of the claim had doubled since the original budget had been approved, the trial had been delayed and there had been additional disclosure.  The Judge found that there had not been any significant developments since the date that the previous budget was approved and refused to vary the budget.  The Claimant appealed to the judge who held that:

  • He was not satisfied that there had been significant developments
  • The increased value of the claim did not mean that there would be higher costs. The parties already had permission to call the relevant experts.
  • The additional disclosure was clearly foreseeable when the costs budget was set.
  • An adjournment could potentially be a significant development. However on the facts of this case it was not.
  • The master had exercised his discretion appropriately there were no grounds to interfere with the exercise of that discretion.

This demonstrates the need to interpret the case and accurately formulate the case plan prior to preparing the budget.  The judge gave consideration to what the parties should have known when the budget was prepared, rather than simply relying on the assumptions to support the revision of the budget.  Accurate assumptions are essential despite the recent amendment to the rules which encourage condensed assumptions.

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