In news that will come as welcome reading to litigants and solicitors alike, the Leeds District Registry has confirmed a 6-month pilot scheme in relation to costs budgeting.
What is the usual procedure?
Ordinarily, where a multi-track case with damages of less than £10 million has been issued, the parties will have to file a Directions Questionnaire (a document which deals with mainly administrative elements of the case and how it will progress). With this document, they must also send to the Court and the opponent, a multi-page, detailed Costs Budget. This is essentially a detailed and broken down estimate of the costs that might be incurred in the case. Where the expected damages are less than £50,000, or the costs budget totals £25,000 or less, a more straightforward form is available.
Once the parties have exchanged costs budgets, they should look to agree what they think is a reasonable estimate. If they cannot, the Court will go through the budgets in detail at a Costs and Case Management Conference (CCMC) and make orders as to the amount of recoverable costs.
What does the Costs Management Pilot Scheme change?
The pilot scheme applies to claims within the Leeds District Registry. It enables parties to agree between themselves the extent of the costs budgeting required. Where the parties are able to agree case management directions and also agree to limit the extent of the costs budgeting, they can file a simple costs budget (a single sheet of A4) as opposed to the more detailed and complicated form. If the Court agrees that budgets of this nature are reasonable and proportionate in the case, it will make an order dispensing with any further costs budgeting.
If the parties cannot agree directions, or do not wish to limit the extent of costs management, they will have to file a full costs budget (for costs over £25,000) and the court will list a CCMC.
How could the pilot scheme benefit me?
Detailed costs budgeting can take up a disproportionate amount of time, and therefore costs, in relatively straightforward cases. Further, the amount of costs that a successful party can recover from its opponent in relation to costs budgeting is limited. Therefore, dealing with costs management under this pilot scheme could save you on the unrecoverable costs that can occur if, for example, the budget negotiations and amendments take time.
The pilot scheme has been introduced to counter this, “with the intention of avoiding the expense and convenience of cost management”. Time will tell whether the pilot gets an extended run.
If you have a dispute and would like to discuss it with a solicitor, you can contact our Litigation team on 0113 244 9931. Alternatively, if you are a solicitor and wish to discuss costs and budgeting please call Simon Miller, our Costs specialist on 0113 297 3160.