Increasing costs budget – what constitutes “significant development”

PI_Justin_Crossley By Justin Crossley

In Churchill v Boot 2016 (QBD 22/04/2016) permission to appeal against a master’s order refusing permission to amend a cost budget was refused.

The claim arose from a road traffic accident in 2009, in which the Claimant had sustained a serious brain injury. In 2014, a master approved cost budgets for the parties.  The court gave permission for the Claimant to rely upon experts of various disciplines.  The Claimant was to provide further disclosure, including education and employment records. The trial was consequently delayed by 6-9 months.  A further order in 2015 provided for the exchange of updated expert reports.

The claim had doubled in value since it was originally pleaded. In turn the Claimant applied to amend his cost budget pursuant to CPR PD 3E para 7.6.  The master refused the application on the basis that there had been no significant development.  The master stated that the case had taken a normal course following the original budget.

The Claimant submitted that there had been significant developments since the 2014 budget, namely the doubling of the amount claimed, the adjournment of the trial and the further disclosure ,which led to updated expert reports.

In dismissing the application to appeal Picken. J reaffirmed the master’s decision that there had been no significant developments within meaning of paragraph 7.6. He stated that doubling the amount of the claim did not necessarily justify an increase in costs.  Further he found that the so-called developments were capable of being envisaged at the time of the original cost budget.  In certain circumstances an adjournment could be a significant development, but not in this case.  The additional disclosure was not a significant development.  The type of disclosure ordered, namely education and employment records, were of a standard type in this sort of claim.  Disclosure and the service of expert evidence was not a significant development which had not been contemplatable when the cost budget was set.  The 2014 Order had identified the experts which were to be used in the case.  And that it had always been envisaged that experts would be required to view types of documents sought through disclosure.  Additionally, subsequent reports were not to be deemed a significant development, a sense of being significant and previously unexpected.

Picken.J found that the Claimant’s grounds for appeal were without merit and that the master had exercised his discretion in a way that was not open to challenge.


This failed application to appeal emphasises the need to predict, wherever possible, all eventualities as to how a claim, particularly one of a relatively high value, may develop. It may also be of use in persuading a judge when carrying out the budgeting exercise that there is a need to provide for all eventualities, even if ultimately they do not come to happen.

Case report obtained from Lawtel

©Thomson Reuters


One comment

  1. […] Justin Crossley of Zenith Chambers considered the Churchill case in Increasing Costs Budget – What constituted “Significant Development”? […]

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