Hopes that the Court of Appeal would get its teeth into costs management have been dashed for the time being after the case that was destined to go there was successfully mediated.
The indications had been that the little-known Redfern v Corby Borough Council  EWHC 4526 (QB) – said by the judge to be one of the first reported appeals against a decision by a master in relation to a costs management order – would become the vehicle for guidance on budgeting
Litigation Futures understands that both the Law Society and Bar Council had been invited to intervene.
The £700,000 claim was brought by the former head of property at Corby Borough Council over a psychiatric condition he developed as a result of alleged stress, bullying and harassment at work. It was mainly for anticipated loss of earnings.
But his solicitor, Des Collins, confirmed to this website that the claim has been compromised. An agreed statement said: “Steven Redfern and Corby Borough Council are pleased to confirm that following mediation, Steven Redfern, Head of Service: CB Property Services, is leaving the council on mutually agreeable terms. Corby Borough Council wish Mr Redfern well in the future.
“No further statement will be made by or on behalf of either party in relation to Mr Redfern’s claims or any other matter relating to Mr Redfern’s employment.”
Last December, HHJ Seymour QC upheld the decision of Deputy Master Eyre to reduce the proposed budget of £744,000 to £267,000.
Deputy Master Eyre had been particularly unhappy that £130,000 had already been spent and said the fact a budget might be set which would give the claimant little room to manoeuvre thereafter ought to have been considered when deciding to spend that much. “That is the unfortunate arithmetical result that you must live with,” he said.
On the appeal it was argued that the consequence was that the amounts which had been allowed for costs yet to be incurred were inadequate. Judge Seymour rejected that submission, saying: “That, I think, must be a consequence, potentially, of taking into account in fixing the budgets the amount of the costs already incurred in deciding what would be reasonable and proportionate in respect of all subsequent costs.
“The only way in which one can take into account excessive costs already incurred in determining the reasonableness and proportionality of subsequent costs is to limit the approved subsequent costs at figures below what they might otherwise have been approved at but for the excessive sums which have already been expended.”
It had also been hoped that Redfern would lead to guidance on proportionality. Judge Seymour said that while it may be going too far to suggest that the effect of the CPR is that it is never proportionate for costs to approach in amount the value of the claim, “certainly the express provision that costs which are disproportionate in amount may be disallowed or reduced even if they were reasonably or necessarily incurred suggests that in practice [this] is very likely to be the case”.