Last June, I wrote about changes, and that we don’t always naturally embrace changes. However, in law we deal with regular CPR updates and case law that can change the way we work. One particular change I want to touch on here, is in relation to Costs and Case Management Conferences, more commonly known as CCMCs. Their purpose is to provide directions to the conclusion of the case, and to budget the associated costs.
From the end of March 2020, these automatically became remote hearings, and were dealt with by either telephone or some form of video platform. Previously, there seemed to be a reluctance for any CCMC involving costs budgets to be dealt with remotely, and it was often stipulated in the Court Order that they must be dealt with in person, if costs budgets were being dealt with. I did often wonder why this was, and speculated that because they were relatively new (I know, we’re nearly 8 years in now!) the Courts felt more comfortable having these documents, and advocates, in front of them. But that is purely speculation.
I have dealt with costs budgets at numerous CCMCs. Prior to the national lockdown, these were all in person, and since lockdown, these have all been remote.
But is there really much difference?
There is nothing quite like walking in to the Royal Court of Justice or a County Court. Or waiting; whether that be in the narrow corridor outside a Master’s room or in larger waiting rooms at County Courts around the country. Or getting slightly lost when finding your way to the correct part of the Court – I am sure we’ve all been there to some degree!
In terms of the hearings themselves, I have found them to be extremely efficient and useful. A good bundle is essential so that all parties are working from the same documents, and this can of course be kept on screen whilst you participate in the hearing. Participants can also make automatic changes to documents, and this is particularly useful when dealing with costs budgets, as a budget total can be calculated immediately, rather than outside of the Court room.
And that is before we even get on to the savings of time with regards to travel, and that applies to all parties.
I certainly hope remote CCMCs remain, but understand if some go back to being in person. From my experiences, and those of my colleagues, they have run well and have achieved their purpose.
I am always interested to hear of your experiences, or whether you require any assistance with Costs Budgets or Costs and Case Management Conferences, so please do not hesitate to contact me, Tom Brocklebank, Head of Litigation, on 01228 815394 or email me here.