Costs Budgeting – claims over £10m

In Signia Wealth Limited -v- Marlborough Trust Company Limited [2016] EWHC 2141 the court considered whether costs budgeting was appropriate.

Practical points

  • If there is no value on the claim form, then despite the amount of the claim – costs management applies.
  • The combined value of the claim for costs was considered when deciding whether the proportionality test was engaged.
  • Will an inequality of arms be a determining fact when deciding if costs management applies?  If making submissions regarding the same, then evidence to support the financial circumstances should be provided.

This was a high value claim and the court was asked to consider whether the claim should be taken out of the costs management regime.

The claimant identified that because neither the claim nor the additional claim had specified a monetary value in excess of the £10m limit, the claim was not automatically taken out of the costs management regime by virtue of CPR 3.12 (1)(b).

Costs budgets were filed and both parties’ claims for costs totalled £4.14m, the value of the claim was in the region of £13m. Consequently, the court found that the proportionality argument was engaged.

The court considered whether CPR 3.15(2) applied -“Where costs budgets have been filed and exchanged the court will make a costs management order unless it is satisfied that the litigation can be conducted justly and at proportionate cost in accordance with the overriding objective without such an order being made.

The court commented:

13. It is not in doubt now that this claim is within the costs management regime. That is so because neither the claim form nor the additional claim mentioned the value of £13 million, which is said to be the value of the shares which were held by the first defendant. Had the figure been mentioned in the additional claim form, then the costs management regime would not have applied.

14. It seems to me that, given that this claim is within the regime, the proper approach for the court to adopt is to apply the test set out at CPR 3.15(2), namely the court must be satisfied, if this case is to be taken outside the regime, that the claim can be conducted justly and at proportionate cost in accordance with the overriding objective without a costs management order being made. If the court is not so satisfied, then the claim must stay within the costs management regime.”

The court  further commented that the incurred costs as against the future costs needed to be considered.   “If a point had been reached at which point future costs were to be de minimus, there was little point it requesting parties to undertake the expense of costs management. Although costs management was occurring later than desirable, there were significant future costs to be incurred and therefore this was a case to make observations about costs which have been incurred”..

The defendant argued that there was an inequality of arms, the second defendant was an individual.  However, no evidence was provided to support her financial circumstances and therefore the court found that it would not be right to make a decision in relation to the costs management.

The court considered that the claim fell within the costs management regime and therefore the proper approach for the court to adopt was to apply the test set out in CPR3.15(2).

Because there were issues of proportionality which needed to be considered  and there were real benefits for the parties if there was a costs management order, the court ordered that there be a costs management hearing.

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