Revising Precedent H Costs Budgets
Don’t delay in applying to revise your Costs Budget if a significant development has occurred in your litigation, and on those occasions where there may have been a delay don’t shy away from applying.
It is not left to a party to choose whether to revise its budget and to take its chances on a detailed assessment, parties must apply to revise their budget if there has been a significant development in the litigation – Sharp -v- Blank & Ors  EWHC 3390 (Ch) (21 December 2017) (hereafter Sharp).
In the event that there has been a significant development in the litigation, parties are not able to defer the determination of additional incurred costs to detailed assessment – those incurred costs form part of the request for additional costs:
Master Marsh “I do not consider the rules and practice direction intended that only certain elements of the costs relating to significant developments must be dealt with as revisions with the other elements, those pre-dating the hearing or, on another view those pre-dating the application, being dealt with on a detailed assessment. This approach would run contrary to the purposes of costs management and lead to unnecessary fragmentation of the costs dealt with at a detailed assessment.”
Master Marsh found that the costs incurred from the costs management order and up to the application to revise the Cost Budget were not incurred costs for the purpose of the revision, they were future costs. Master Marsh focussed on the language of the CPR referring to the choice of the use of “future” rather than “budgeted costs”, as follows:
“The language used in paragraph 7.6 is of critical importance because it provides the jurisdiction, on the defendants’ case to make the revisions they seek. It is notable that the language is at variance with the remainder of the rules and PD3E. It refers throughout to the revision of a “budget” (not, in accordance with the new wording, “budgeted costs”). It is explicit, however, that revision is in respect of future costs. The final sentence of this paragraph gives the court a discretion to approve, vary or disapprove the revisions “… having regard to any significant developments which have occurred since the date when the previous budget was approved or agreed”. On one view, such language points towards the last approved or agreed budget being the jumping off point for a revision because it is the budget that is being revised”.
Master Marsh concluded that the “Costs which have been incurred since the date of the last agreed or approved budget (or the antecedent date) that relate to significant developments are, for the purposes of revision, placed in the estimated columns of the revised Precedent H in one or more phase. In some cases, it may not be obvious where they go (for example a late application for security for costs) but I can see no reason why Precedent H may not be adapted as necessary to accommodate work that does not easily fit in”.
He also considered that there would be a degree of retrospectivity if the costs management regime was to work.
It is essential that you apply to revise your Costs Budget if a significant development has occurred in your litigation, to not do so puts you at risk of not being able to recover any costs that are in excess of your budget.
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.