Costs budgets should not include additional liabilities, says High Court

Phone hacking: clear direction on what should be in Precedent H

Phone hacking: clear direction on what should be in Precedent H

Costs budgets should not include any sums for additional liabilities, the High Court has ruled in the latest stage of the phone-hacking litigation against Mirror Group Newspapers (MGN).

It also outlined the detailed budgeting plans that have been put in place for the cases.

Recoverability still exists in privacy and confidentiality cases, and the judge said that Precedent H specifically excluded success fees and after-the-event (ATE) insurance.

“That seems to me to be a clear direction as to what is not to be included,” Mr Justice Mann ruled. “The omission of the relevant matters is emphasised by the underlining of the word ‘excludes’, which occurs in the original of precedent. The guidance notes go on to indicate what should and should not be included. None of them begin to suggest that anything should be included in respect of additional liabilities.

“While it is true that this precedent is only a form, it is a form which is mandated by the practice direction and so its express contents as to what the form should not include has the force of the practice direction.”

Mann J said additional liabilities should also not be included in the assumptions.

On how the budgeting process would proceed, the judge said the parties have agreed that there should be separate budgets for common costs and for the costs relating solely to individual claims, and they have agreed how individual claims should be categorised for costs budgeting purposes.

So far as individual costs are concerned, the parties have agreed on a system of template budgeting. Rather than preparing budgets for each individual case – currently numbering more than 30 – the parties have agreed three template budgets.

Each of the cases is to be treated as falling into one of three categories, depending on the number of articles on which the claim is based and/or the level of dispute between the parties judged by reference to the number of articles which are or are not agreed by the defendant as having a source in illicit information gathering.

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