Blog - Wednesday 27 November 2013

Mitchell Decision

The Court of Appeal has emphatically, unanimously and vociferously dismissed the appeal in the costs budgeting case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1526.  However the Judgment goes a lot further, it is a guide to all litigators practising post 01.04.13.

The case doesn’t simply deal with failure to file a budget on time (although that in itself is a significant issue), but the wider impact of applying for relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9 post 1st April.

For those three regular readers (the numbers increased significantly over October), I believe this is good news.  Whilst on the face of it there will be an outcry from Claimant Solicitors regarding access to justice (as well as many sleepless nights), the simple fact is, if you don’t breach the rules, you will never have to apply for relief under the new CPR 3.9.

All in all, it’s an excellent decision – but what does it mean for you as a litigator?  Three key things:

  1. Outsource all of your budgeting work.  Had the Claimant’s Solicitors done so in this case, they could now claim on the costs draftsman’s Professional Indemnity Insurance – rather than weeping into their empty profit costs column.  
  1. Instruct costs experts with very high Professional Indemnity Insurance (Just Costs’ is 8 figures.  8 figures = £10,000,000).
  1. No one likes an ‘I told you so’.

And there we have it.  Just like the 25th December every year, I have dined out on this topic.  Perhaps too much.  I am now somewhat stuffed.

PS – I told you so.  (I couldn’t resist!)