90% Payment on Account where there is a costs budget “Still the Norm”

Earlier this week, following the judgement in Puharic v Silverbond Enterprises Ltd [2021] the High Court confirmed that a 90% payment on account of costs was a reasonable sum for the claimant paying party to have to advance to the successful defendant receiving party. The Claimant had initially offered 50%.

Gavin Mansfield QC, sitting as Deputy Judge of the High Court, said: the Claimant’s proposal fails to have regard to the developing body of law as to the relationship between costs management and detailed assessment and went on to comment that at detailed assessment, pursuant to CPR 3.18, the court will not depart from the approved or agreed budget unless there is a good reason to do so per MacInnes v Gross [2017]. In this case it was found that approved budgeted costs should only be reduced by a maximum of 10%.  Thomas Pink Ltd. v Victoria’s Secret UK Ltd [2014] was also referenced as an example of where 90% of the approved budgeted costs were awarded.

As no submissions were made by the Claimant in the Puharic case to suggest that there would be a good reason to depart from the approved budget, 90% of the approved budgeted costs were ordered to be paid as an interim.

In relation to incurred costs by the time of the CCMC, the Judge asserted that the same point was not applicable as these costs were not subject to the court’s approval. Guidance in accordance with the case of Excalibur Ventures LLC v Texas Keystone Inc [2015] was followed instead. The incurred costs related to the pre-action, issue/statement of case and CCMC phases. The Defendant’s incurred costs of £11,010 for the CCMC phase were recorded in the CMO as “a little high for that phase, but not significantly so” and £10,000 was deemed to be reasonable. There were no issues noted in relation to the pre-action or issue/statements of case phases and so 70% of the incurred costs were deemed a reasonable sum for the purposes of an interim payment.

In relation to the PTR phase, the Defendant sought only 50% of its budgeted costs, because even though work was carried out in this phase, the hearing was vacated.

The Claimant was ordered to make a payment on account of costs in the sum of £187,121.13.

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