Partial strike out of the budget in the case of Page v RGC Restaurants Ltd !
Be wary when preparing budgets, do NOT prepare a budget up until a particular stage, unless the court orders otherwise. In this case, the Claimant had decided to prepare their budget up until the PTR stage only, the Master found that they had not complied with the CPR and limited the budget to court fees only. The Claimant appealed the decision on the grounds that a budget had been filed, questioning the Master’s irrational approach of limiting the budget to court fees, claiming that CPR 3.15 (the fact that the parties had agreed the Claimant’s budget up to the PTR stage) trumps the sanctions imposed by CPR 3.14 and submitting that the default sanction should be dis-applied.
On appeal, the Master found that this was partial non-compliance rather than full non-compliance. So rather than striking the full budget out, the court struck out those phases of the budget where forecast costs had not been provided.
It has to be said, the preparation of partial budgets makes assessing proportionality impossible, which is an essential part of costs management.
In practical terms, this is important for split trials. My advice has always been NEVER to prepare a budget up to the first trial, unless the court orders otherwise as there is the risk that the court will deem this to be non-compliant and the budget may be reduced to court fees. We now have case law which provides guidance regarding the approach to be adopted, which is helpful.
Sue Fox is a Senior Associate and the Head of Costs Management in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 336 3389, or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 246 0622.