Amended costs management rules come into force

Costs budgeting: new time limits

Costs budgeting: new time limits

The amended costs management rules came into force today as part of the latest CPR update, following the review carried out by a Civil Procedure Rules Committee group headed by Mr Justice Coulson.

A key change is that budgets for claims worth over £50,000 should be filed three weeks before the case and costs management conference (CCMC). Budgets for claims worth less than £50,000 should be filed with the directions questionnaire. The existing time limit for filing is seven days before the first CMC.

Under a new rule 3.13(2), in the event that a party files and exchanges a budget, all other parties will have to file an agreed budget discussion report (new Precedent R) no later than seven days before the first CCMC. The amended practice direction says this report must set out those figures which are agreed and not agreed for each phase, and a brief summary of the grounds of dispute.

Separately, a new paragraph 7.10 in practice direction 3E that aims to put to bed the debate over the role of hourly rates in the budgeting process.

It says: “The making of a costs management order under part 3.15 concerns the totals allowed for each phase of the budget. It is not the role of the court in the cost management hearing to fix or approve the hourly rates claimed in the budget. The underlying detail in the budget for each phase used by the party to calculate the totals claimed is provided for reference purposes only to assist the court in fixing a budget.”

Other changes include:

  • Only the first page of Precedent H is to be exchanged and filed in cases where the value of the claims is under £50,000 or the costs are less than £25,000;
  • Claims made on behalf of a child are excluded from the regime, and in cases where the claimant has a limited or severely impaired life expectation, the court will ordinarily disapply cost management; and
  • Costs claimed in each phase of the proceedings are made available to the court when assessing costs at the end of a case; and
  • Any party may apply to the court if it considers that another party is behaving oppressively in seeking to cause the applicant to spend money disproportionately on costs and the court will grant such relief as may be appropriate.

Though there has been some confusion about transitional provisions, it appears that the new rules only apply to cases commenced on or after today.

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