High Court approves only part of a defendant budget

28th June, 2016

In Wright v Rowland & Anor (reported on Lawtel 17/06/2016) there was dispute between the parties as to whether the case was complex or not. The two defendants presented a £1.7m costs budget for one solicitor and one leading counsel but with the two defendants having different junior counsel. Claimant argued against this. The court could not decide whether the use of separate junior counsel could be justified. The dilemma for the Judge was:

  • If he approved the budget at the lower level using one junior counsel, then he risked pre-judging whether it would be reasonable for the defendants to have separate junior counsel.
  • If he compromised the approved budget between the lower and higher figures, then that didn’t seem sensible.
  • If he approved the budget at the higher level and the case went through to trial and the defendants were successful in their defence, then they would escape detailed assessment.
  • If he declined to approve the budget at all and the defendants succeeded in their defence using two junior counsel, then their costs would be subject to detailed assessment, but that didn’t help the claimant to make decisions about the litigation.

So the Judge decided the right approach was to approve some phases of the defendant’s costs budget only.

The Judge declined to approve the trial prep and trial phases on the basis this will allow the defendants to seek detailed assessment if they are successful in their defence.

Attain have seen budgets partly approved before so perhaps this isn’t that unusual?

Attain – experts in helping firms deal with the new cost management regime. Contact us on 01664 565325 or visit http://www.attaincosts.co.uk/.