The importance of filing a Precedent H on time cannot be understated. As per CPR 3.14, if a party fails to file a Precedent H on time, it will be treated as if a budget had been filed comprising only of the applicable Court fees.
CPR 3.13 governs the timing of filing the Precedent H and states the following;
(1) Unless the court otherwise orders, all parties except litigants in person must file and exchange budgets—
(a) where the stated value of the claim on the claim form is less than £50,000, with their directions questionnaires; or
(b) in any other case, not later than 21 days before the first case management conference.
It is therefore of “Paramount” importance for Costs Budgeting to be at the forefront of fee earners minds in Multi-Track claims so that a Costs Budget can be prepared in good time. Failure to do so can lead to a loss of substantial fees.
Late Filing of Costs Budget
Where the deadline for filing a budget is missed, the defaulting party must make an application for relief from sanction as soon as they are aware of the default and should also file the Costs Budget at that point.
There is no guarantee that relief will be granted however, the case of Denton -v- White ( EWCA Civ 906) sets out a three-stage approach for assessing whether relief should be granted;
- Identify and assess the seriousness or the significance of the breach.
- Consideration of why the default occurred
- Evaluate all the circumstances of the case to enable the court to deal justly with the application (including the need (a) for litigation to be conducted efficiently and at proportionate cost; and (b) to enforce compliance with rules, PDs and orders).
If the three-stage test can be satisfied, relief should be granted.
Costs Budget filed but not served
The rules are silent as to the effect of filing a budget but not serving the same. In a recent case whereby this scenario occurred, representations were made at the CMC for the Court to exercise their discretion as to the costs due to the additional pressure put on the non-defaulting party. A 50% reduction in the CMC costs were sought and agreed by the master.
The moral of the story when it comes to budgeting is be proactive and ensure the budget is filed and served on time.
For further information on Costs Budgets, please contact Karl Robson, Costs Lawyer, here