I have been preparing budgets for over 5 years, during the pilot scheme and onwards. I have prepared budgets in all areas of law and I have drafted well in excess of 1,000 budgets, so I would like to share with you my 5 Gold Rings!
- File your budget well in advance of the hearing, this allows parties to negotiate properly.
- Mutual exchange. Agreeing to mutually exchange the budgets may be beneficial, it may assist your case if neither party is aware of the opponent’s budget. This may help strategically and stop parties adapting their budget, following consideration of the opponent’s budget.
- Only include foreseeable contingent costs, the rules are clear regarding this. Do not include every eventuality, consider how you think your case will proceed and only include the relevant contingencies.
- Filing v service. This is a cute point. The court sanction only relates to failing to file rather than failing to serve. If you are experiencing a tight deadline then file your budget first rather than serve. Obviously I am not condoning a lackadaisical approach to service, however it is something to bear in mind if time is of the essence.
- The rules provide for downward revisions of budgets. This is a good point to remember. Defendants often consider budgeting to be a waste of time, simply a box ticking exercise, this is usually defendant insurers or defendants that will be subject to QOCS. However, if there are material changes to the case, then it may be appropriate to seek a revision downwards. This is a good tactic for the defendant because it may reduce their costs liability – so defendants, please do not ignore the budgets.