27.09.2013Kelly; Kelly v Black Horse Ltd.  EWHC B17 (Costs)
Key areas: ATE; SCCO; High Court
This was a ruling as part of a Detailed Assessment. At trial, the Claimants had been awarded damages of £6,000.00 and 70% of their costs.
The Bill of Costs totalled £ 46,661.22, including VAT and additional liabilities. Every item had been assessed, with the success fee reduced from 100% to 53.85%, apart from the claim for an ATE premium of £15,900.00.
In the Points of Dispute, the Defendant claimed that the premium was disproportionate to the damages. They asked for documentation to be disclosed relating to its calculation, but none was provided.
At the hearing, the Defendant submitted that there was only a 15% chance that the insurers would have to pay out, given the various exclusions the policy contained. However, the Court considered this to be “speculation”.
The Court also noted that it was unlikely that the insurers or Claimants would know the Defendant’s costs when the policy was taken out.
However, the Court did hold that the premium was “wholly disproportionate”, and stated that the insurers calculated their exposure at £20,000.
Overall, the amount allowed for the premium was £3,975, including IPT, which was 25% of the amount claimed.
25.09.2013Willis v MRJ Rundell & Associates Ltd.; Grovecourt Ltd.  EWHC 2923 (TCC)
Key areas: costs budgets; High Court
This was a hearing to determine parties’ costs budgets in a main action. The damages were originally claimed at £1.6 million, but had since been reduced to £1.1 million.
The parties had prepared budgets for a CMC in December 2012: the Claimant’s totalled £821,000 + VAT; the Defendants claimed £616,000. At this hearing, the trial was listed for October 2013.
The parties underwent mediation, which led to the trial being postponed, and a further CMC taking place.
At this further hearing, the parties submitted updated budgets: the Claimant now claimed £897,369.67 + VAT and the Defendants claimed £703,130.37. Overall, the costs budgets totalled £1.6 million, which was greater than the damages.
The Court held that both parties’ budgets were “disproportionate and unreasonable”.
The Defendants raised issues over the Claimants’ budgets, but the Court noted that they were more “general than specific”, and, in any event, the costs were similar to the Defendants’ own costs.
Given the similarities between the parties’ budgets, the Court did not approve them, but held that it could not reduce them.
17.09.2013Brookes v DC Leisure Management Ltd.; Technogym UK Ltd.  EW Misc 17 (CC)
Key areas: CFA; retainer; County Court
This was an appeal against a ruling made in a Detailed Assessment.
At the DA it was held that the solicitors were unable to recover any costs incurred under a CFA.
The CFA stated that it was to cover an employer’s liability claim “against Exeter City Council”. However, the proceedings went against other parties, whom the CFA did not name.
The Defendants submitted that given the CFA’s contents, there was no valid retainer for the work done under it. The Court agreed.
On appeal, it was submitted that the Court had failed to imply a term that the CFA was valid against any Defendant; that the parties had varied the CFA by conduct; and that the Claimant would have been stopped from denying liability for costs and so there was no breach of the indemnity principle.
The Defendants submitted that a CFA must be in writing, and so cannot imply terms.
The Court held that the terms of the CFA were clear, and there was no evidence regarding how it was entered into; nor was there any evidence that the parties had agreed to it being varied. In addition, the Defendants were different in status to that the CFA named: they were manufacturers of equipment, not the Claimant’s employers. The estopple argument was also rejected due to a lack of supporting documentation.
As a result, the appeal was dismissed.
13.09.2013Parkin & Ors v Alba Proteins Ltd.; Alba Proteins Penrith Ltd.; Omega Proteins Ltd.  EWHC 2740 (QB)
Key areas: both parties win some issues; party’s conduct; High Court
This was a ruling over costs issues arising from the Claimants’ two Part 23 applications.
The applications were to determine the Defendants’ defences of limitation and estoppel, all of which were based upon the same facts. The Claimants lost the estoppel argument, but won the limitation issue.
The Claimants accepted that they were entitled to all of their costs, other than those relating to estoppel. Overall, they submitted that they should be entitled to 95% of their costs, given the factual overlap on the issues.
The Defendants submitted that the estoppel argument caused the majority of the parties’ costs, and so the Claimants should only be entitled to 50% of their costs.
The Court accepted that it was reasonable for the Claimants to raise the estoppel argument, and also criticised the Defendants’ conduct during the whole claim. However, it also accepted that the estoppel argument did cause a great deal of extra work.
Overall, the Claimants were awarded 90% of their costs, on the Standard Basis, with £23,000 on account. The Claimants were also awarded their costs of a separate amendment to the Particular of Claim caused by the Defendants.
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