The Court considered its powers to order the filing and exchange of costs budgets in cases worth in excess of £2m (under the old regime) or £10m (under the new regime).
This was a high value construction case worth potentially £18m. The claim therefore far exceeded the range for compulsory costs budgeting (CPR 3.12(1)(a)). The Court considered two points of principle relating to costs budgets: –
- Whether the words set out in the original CPR 3.12(1) “or the Court orders otherwise”, gives the Court an overriding discretion to order the provision of costs budgets even in cases where the claim exceeds the range for compulsory budgeting.
- Whether the Court’s discretion under CPR 3.12(1) is unfettered.
- The wording of the original CPR 3.12(1) gives the Court the discretion to disapply the application of the original CPR 3.12 and also the discretion to disapply the exceptions.
- The exercise of the Court’s discretion under CPR 3.12(1) is unfettered. There is nothing in the CPR to suggest otherwise.
Our Comments: –
This case highlights the importance of giving consideration to costs budgeting even in high value multi-track actions which may appear to fall outside the range for costs budgeting. The Court has a wide discretion and Defendants may well apply for orders for budgets to be provided.