Beware, Court form templates are provided for a reason – Don’t get caught out!

In late 2021, Litigators were issued a stark reminder regarding the importance of using the correct Court forms.  Now that the Christmas break is over, we thought it would be appropriate to highlight the importance of this case, in the event it has been lost amongst the flurry of December emails.

In Changing Climates Ltd v Warmaway Ltd [2021] EWHC 3117 (TCC) HHJ Sarah Watson made comments regarding the format of the Statement of Costs to be utilised when seeking a summary assessment of costs after a hearing.

CPR PD 44 9.5(3) requires a Statement of Costs to follow as closely as possible Form N260 and must be signed by the party or the party’s legal representative.  A copy of Form N260 can be found here

Statements of Costs for summary assessment can also be prepared in line with the forms N260A and N260B, as per the summary assessment pilot scheme, pursuant to Practice Direction 51X.  The pilot scheme commenced on 1 April 2019 and will run until 31 March 2022.  The N260A applies when costs have been incurred on an interim application and the N260B applies when the costs have been incurred up to trial.

The N260 clearly identifies costs, split per category and by fee earner.  Counsel fees, other disbursements and VAT are plainly visible.  The familiarity of the form is welcome by parties and the Court alike and allows the costs to be assessed in an efficient manner.   There is no ambiguity or hidden costs.

In Changing Climates Ltd v Warmaway Ltd [2021] EWHC 3117 (TCC) the Claimant prepared a Statement of Costs for summary assessment, which had not been prepared in line with Form N260.  The Claimant sought to include additional headings which would not ordinarily be included in Form N260.  The detail provided was insufficient and it was difficult for the Court to take a view as to whether the costs sought were proportionate.   HHJ Watson commented that “the schedule is hopelessly confused and not in the correct form”.

HHJ Watson was left with no alternative but to take a broad-brush approach and look at the overall costs.

HHJ Watson further commented that “there is a reason that the court requires a standard form for a schedule of costs in litigation.  It is because the parties, solicitors, counsel and judges develop a degree of familiarity with the format.  They know what costs go where and it becomes quite easy to look at the schedule, with the various headings… and form a view as to whether the costs are reasonably incurred and proportionate in amount”.

On a practical note, it is also worth mentioning the service requirements for the Statement of Costs.  CPR PD 44 9.5(4) requires the Statement of Costs to be filed at Court and copies served on any party against whom an order for payment of those costs is intended to be sought as soon as possible and in any event, for a fast track trial, not less than 2 days before the trial and for all other hearings, not less than 24 hours before the time fixed for the hearing.

In Vine v Belfield [2021] EWHC 3068 (QB), the Claimant failed to file the Statement of Costs in advance of the hearing.  Mr Justice Nicklin considered the position and found that the non-service of the Schedule meant that the costs would have to be subject to a Detailed Assessment.  However, there would be an interim payment awarded for a substantial part of the costs claimed.

Conclusion

The above cases demonstrate the need to utilise the correct Form N260 when making an application for the costs to be summarily assessed.

It is also a reminder to ensure the Statement of Costs is served in compliance with the requirements at CPR PD 44(9.4&6), or risk an order for detailed assessment.

Here at Paramount Legal Costs, we can prepare the N260 for you and attend to the completion of all other Court forms and Precedents as required.

If you have any questions regarding this summary or require any assistance with preparation of the correct forms, please do not hesitate to contact Emma Robson here

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