Costs Budgets, Signatures and Common Sense

Elliot Kay  by Elliot Kay

Americhem Europe Ltd v Rakem Ltd and George Walker Transport Ltd [2014] EWHC 1881

Whilst in a perfect world it is hoped that all costs budgets will be signed by a “senior legal representative”, it appears that it will not be fatal if the budget is in fact signed by a costs draughtsman.

The Rules

3.13. Filing and exchanging budgets

Unless the court otherwise orders, all parties except litigants in person must file and exchange budgets as required by the rules or as the court otherwise directs. Each party must do so by the date specified in the notice served under rule 26.3(1) or, if no such date is specified, seven days before the first case management conference.

3.14. Failure to file a budget

Unless the court otherwise orders, any party which fails to file a budget despite being required to do so will be treated as having filed a budget comprising only the applicable court fees.

 

The Case

An application was made for an order that a defendant was in breach of CPR r.3.13 because it had filed a costs budget which had not been signed by a senior legal representative. The budget in question was in the form of Precedent H annexed to CPR PD 3E and whilst it was compliant in every other respect, it was signed by a costs draughtsman. It was submitted that costs draughtsman was not a senior legal representative of the defendant and that the budget was therefore a nullity. It was argued that as a consequence r.3.14 was applicable and the defendant was to be treated as having filed a budget comprising only the applicable court fees.

There was no definition of “senior legal representative” in PD 3E or in the CPR. However, in the circumstances of this case the costs draughtsman could not be considered to be a “legal representative” nor could he be regarded as “senior”. It was held that the fact that a costs draughtsman had signed the budget was an irregularity but that did not render the budget a nullity. The proportionate and just response, given that no-one had been significantly disadvantaged by the irregularity, was to require it to be remedied at the defendant’s cost and to compensate the claimant for the modest cost involved in bringing the matter to the attention of the court.

 

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One comment

  1. […] Elliot Kay of Zenith Chambers discusses Costs Budgets, signatures and common sense. […]

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