Blog - Monday 7 October 2013

The Topsy Turvy World of Costs

Two very startling and completely contrasting things have happened in my last 2 weeks of work:

1.       His Honour Judge Havelock-Allan QC.  He is the regional Circuit Judge for Bristol and head of the local Mercantile Court.  He stated at a costs talk we gave together in Bristol at the lovely offices of TLT, that he has sat on over 150 cost budgeting hearings so far. 

      That figure is less surprising when he reminded everyone as a Mercantile Judge he was part of the Costs Budgeting Pilot that started 2 years ago.  That is not the startling thing however.  The startling thing is that in those 150 cases, he said over half involved parties who didn’t file budgets on time or at all!  Not only that, but he has never sanctioned a party for being late or not filing one before the CMC.

That is remarkable.  Overly fair I think and completely at odds with what the Judiciary are being cajoled to do. 

2.       The second remarkable thing, is an Order I have received from Birmingham District Registry today.  Neither party attached their costs budget (Precedent H) to the Directions Questionnaire which they both filed at Court. 

The DJ, completely of his own volition, has made para 1 of his Directions Order, that both parties be limited to Court fees only. 

I will be checking with the Defendant, but on the off chance that they don’t agree to set aside that part of the Order (and/or the Court refuse the Consent Order), there is another case where a Judge doesn’t understand the rules (not a criticism, far from it – DJ’s have a very difficult task indeed, hearing family cases, debt, injunctions, PI, costs etc). 

Just a reminder – the Court is completely wrong. Read CPR 3.13 for piece of mind.

Two very different approaches.  And Mercantile cases are far from cheap…