Should the additional liabilities be included in the budget to allow the proportionality test to be applied correctly?

Following the case of BNM v MGN Ltd (3rd June 2016) where it was found that the after the event insurance should be taken into account when assessing whether the costs were reasonable and proportionate, should the additional liabilities now be included in the budget to ensure that the proportionality test is applied properly at the budget stage?

According to the recent decision in  Various Claimants v MGN Ltd (21st July 2016) the Defendant accepted that under CPR, the Claimants are not obliged to disclose the amount of the success fee or ATE insurance as this could reveal the prospects of success. However, they referred to the case of  BNM v MGN Ltd (3rd June 2016) and argued that to enable the court to assess the reasonableness of the budget and apply the proportionality test then the additional liabilities now needed to be included in the budget.

Despite the court recognising that by taking into account the additional liabilities this allows a prospective view of proportionality, rather than a retrospective view, thus fulfilling the courts costs management duties, the court disagreed with the Defendant, referring to the provisions within the CPR, specifically the precedent H form and the precedent H guidance notes, concluding as follows:

  • I do not consider that the apparent change in the approach to proportionality on assessments (if there is one) means that there should be a change to the approach on the occasion of budgeting. The reasons for this are based on both the provisions of the rules and the Practice Direction and on the practicalities.
  • The provisions for costs budgeting are to be found in Part II of CPR 3. The procedures are dealt with in Practice Direction 3E. Paragraph 2(a) requires the court to have regard to the overriding objective and paragraph 6(a) provides:

“Unless the court otherwise orders, a budget must be in the form of Precedent H annexed to this Practice Direction.”

  • The first page of that precedent contains a summary which is amplified in the following pages. Below the summaries of costs under various headings there is included the following wording:

“This estimate excludes VAT (if applicable), success fees and ATE insurance premiums (if applicable), costs of detailed assessment, costs of any appeals, costs of enforcing any judgment and [complete as appropriate]”

Therefore, in light of the emerging case law on proportionality, the approach to the inclusion of additional liabilities remain the same and should be excluded from the precedent H.

Sue Fox is the Head of Costs Budgeting in the Costs and Litigation Funding department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact her at sue.fox@clarionsolicitors.com and 0113 336 3389, or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 246 0622.

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