TALES FROM COSTS LAW CONFERENCE III: SATELLITE NAVIGATION, MERRIX AND COSTS BUDGETING

One issue discussed at the Association of Costs Lawyers in Manchester on the 24th October  was the decision in Merrix -v- Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust [2016] EWHC B28 (QB). The question of whether a detailed assessment is needed after a case has been costs budgeted.

NOW ON APPEAL

At the conference it was stated that an appeal had not been lodged. However an appeal has now  been lodged (the claimant being given permission in any event). So we can expect

DISCUSSION AT THE CONFERENCE

District Judge Ian Besford, talking on budgeting and proportionality, said he accepted the Merrix judgment’s view that a costs budget was a brief survey of the landscape whilst assessment was a more detailed survey. Judge Besford preferred the analogy of using a satnav at the beginning of a car journey (because no-one uses maps).  The basic route was set but there could be diversions and, at the end of the journey, you looked back and see what route had actually been taken.

THE APPEAL

The appellant has to deal with the wording of 7.3 of the Costs Management Practice Direction

“When reviewing budgets, the court will not undertake a detailed assessment in advance, but rather will consider whether the budgeted costs fall within the range of reasonable and proportionate costs.”

However there is no point in speculating on these matters. Hopefully we will have a definitive view in the new year.

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