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Fees breakdown published for capped costs pilot

Manchester Civil Justice Centre: Pilot goes live on Monday

The breakdown of the £80,000 in fees that solicitors will be able to claim under the voluntary capped costs pilot for certain Business and Property Courts cases valued up to £250,000 has been published.

The Civil Procedure Rule Committee announced the pilot – which starts on 14 January – last month [1], and the final rules have now been approved.

The aim is to improve access to the courts by streamlining procedures, lowering costs, increasing the certainty of costs exposure, and speeding up the resolution of claims.

The pilot was recommended by Sir Rupert Jackson as part of his July 2017 report on extending fixed recoverable costs in civil cases.

The pilot will be evaluated by Paul McMahon, an assistant professor at the London School of Economics, to assess whether there is demand for such a scheme and to see how it might be rolled out in practice.

It is based on the capped costs regime in the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court, and is contained in new Practice Direction 51W.

The two-year pilot will run in the London Circuit Commercial Court and the three specialist courts in the Manchester District Registry and Leeds District Registry, namely the Circuit Commercial Court, the Technology and Construction Court and the Chancery courts.

The lead judges are Mr Justice Waksman in London, HHJ Jonathan Klein in Leeds and HHJ Richard Pearce in Manchester.

Being limited to the High Court, it is in effect a pilot for cases with a monetary value of £100,000 to £250,000. It will be open to any case except those which:

The scheme is voluntary. The claimant may start their claim in the capped costs list (CCL), or the parties may subsequently agree to transfer to it.

Prior to the case management conference, the defendant may object to the case proceeding as such. Thereafter, the court’s permission will be required for a case to leave the CCL.

Statements of case will be limited in length, and must be accompanied by the documents upon which the party proposes to rely. There will be no costs management, nor will there be automatic disclosure, witness statements or expert evidence.

At the case management conference, the court will consider whether to make any orders as to disclosure, witness statements or expert evidence which are necessary for the resolution of the identified issues.

Witness statements, if ordered, will be limited in length, will deal only with issues set out in the list of issues, and there will be a general rule that a party may rely on the oral evidence of no more than two witnesses at trial.

The general rule is that expert evidence will not be permitted, but may be allowed by the court if it would further the aim of the pilot and the benefits would justify the likely cost – and expert evidence at trial should generally be in the form of a report from a single joint expert.

The trial will be not more than eight months after the CMC, and will last no longer than two days (excluding reading time and judgment).

Not more than 21 days after the conclusion of the trial, the parties will produce a schedule of costs by reference to various stages of the litigation, which will be assessed summarily by the court.

A cap applies to each stage, together with an overall cap £80,000 (exclusive of VAT, court fees, wasted costs, and costs of enforcement).

The costs are set out at the end of Practice Direction 51W: