In the case of Hadley v Przybylo  EWHC 1392 (KB) it was ruled that fee earner time dealing with Case Managers, Multi-Disciplinary Teams and Court of Protection Deputies should not be included in the main costs budget phases if the work does not materially progress the case.
At the budget discussion stage of this serious personal injury case, several costs management issues were narrowed, but there was no reconciliation between the parties as to whether case management and MDT meetings, and attendances on deputies for health, welfare and finance could be included in the budget.
The Claimant argued it was the practice of the Masters to include these costs and that:
“attendance by a fee earner at these case management meetings etc are reasonably necessary to progress the litigation because they assist in maintaining the Schedule of Loss as the claim goes along. It is  something of a ‘live feed’ from the Claimant’s care and treatment at medical-professional level and the deputies, to the lawyers. What is claimed in the budget is about 1 hour each week with the Case Manager and 1 hour each week with each of the two Deputies, totalling 3 hours a week in the Issues and Statements of Case phase, as part of work on drafting and updating the Schedule of Loss on an ongoing basis.”
The Defendant argued the contrary submitting that:
“as a matter of principle such attendance charges ought to be ruled as inadmissible in a budget. They are not progressive of litigation any more than, say, having lawyers attend every medical treatment appointment would be. They are not properly included. In addition, whether or not in principle ever allowable in a budget, they do not fall within the guidance as to the categories of matter to be included in the Issues and Statements of Case phase in any event. Furthermore, their experience in contrast with that of the Claimants is that such charges are often rejected for inclusion in budgets.”
Master McCloud acknowledged this to be a grey area and appeared to make an example, albeit rife for challenge, in her decision to side with the Defendants.
Reference was made to Practice Direction 3D 10. (b) and the fact case manager attendance costs in this case formed a part of the maintenance of the Schedule of Loss. It was found that these specific types of costs did not materially progress the case, and therefore not budgetable or a recoverable head of costs in principle.
“In my judgment having a fee earner attending rehabilitation case management meetings is not progressive in the above sense and does not fall within the notion of ‘costs’. Likewise a fee earner attending on deputies so as to seek input into the ongoing drafting of the case in the form of the Schedule, when deputies do not properly play a part in such work, is not progressive.”
Master McCloud did indicate that these costs may be recoverable in damages but failed to elaborate, apart from to say it is for the Claimant to consider whether at trial those costs may be claimable as damages.
The argument that attending on case managers and deputies was integral to producing the Schedule of Loss was described as “weak” by the Master.
The Master went on to clarify that information about case management or incurred expenses could be achieved by the occasional letter to the case manager or deputy or from obtaining documents for later disclosure. Furthermore, in their witness statements and that these costs could be included in the budget as they are “qualitatively” different things from attending meetings for input into a schedule of loss. It was decided that if they were allowable in the budget, then they are best placed in ‘contingency phases’.
Although this decision hinders budgeting time spent in case manager, MDT and deputy meetings, Master McCloud allowed permission to appeal and invited the Rules Committee to provide guidance in the very same judgment. It seems then that the intention of this ruling is to ‘flush out’ some clarity.
Anna Lockyer is a Senior Associate in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact the team at firstname.lastname@example.org