I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach! (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
Well, it’s the present, 10 months in from the launch of Sextons Legal Costs, and we have been reviewing our successful year-to-date!
We have welcomed a number of new clients and have been updating them on the ever-changing world of costs with our free in-house seminars. In addition, we have kept our own knowledge updated with attendance at Cost Conferences and our regular bi-monthly meetings with fellow costing professionals in the Wessex area.
Now, to head into the Christmas season with a festive image:
“…in the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to scatter gloom and mystery…”
Yes, that old chestnut proportionality, Claimant costings very own Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come looms over all areas of costs from Court of Protection to defamation and personal injury. We have been and will be working closely with our clients, irrespective of their main area of work, to provide an analytical approach to their current recording methods and recovery of costs. Sextons Legal want to ensure that their clients can increase productivity and profitability in this era of uncertainty.
The goose is not however entirely cooked, as there are pending Court of Appeal hearings on both BNM v MGN Limited and Brian May v Wavell Group PLC, which might provide clarity over the issues of proportionality. Hopefully we will soon be hearing the clank of chains on the issue of proportionality, but the lessons have been invaluable.
The costs world is not stagnant, it requires continuous initiative, invention and evaluation to remind us why the work undertaken by Solicitors, both Claimant and Defendant, is invaluable to our justice system. Sometimes a shock is required to remind us of what the true value and purpose of our work is.
In the case of Agents' Mutual Ltd v Gascoigne Halman Ltd (Costs Management II)  CAT 20, Mr Justice Roth has continued to make a costs management order despite agreement between the parties to dispense with the costs management process.
Roth J confirmed that the Court did not have to accept any agreement between the parties to dispense with costs management. The Claimant had denied that any such agreement had been reached and Roth J considered that the Court should make a costs management order in the litigation. This was due to the fact that the CPR did not apply to proceedings in the Competition Appeal Tribunal but Roth J also confirmed that he would have come to the same conclusion if the CPR were to apply, on the basis that the Court had the power to make a costs management order if it was considered appropriate.
Roth J went on to confirm that "any such agreement (to dispense with costs management) between the parties would be a very relevant factor to take into account".
The Claimant's costs budget was agreed between the parties at £1.8m, but the Defendant's budget was not. Roth J went on to reduce the Defendant's budget to £2.8m following reductions made to all the anticipated costs phases. The overall reduction of the anticipated costs came to 37%.
Roth J went on to confirm that the Court was not concerned with what the Defendant's Solicitor might charge their client and only by what is a reasonable and proportionate amount for the Defendant to recover on the standard basis between the parties should they win the case.