Judge gives instant reward for budget control with summary assessment of £351,000 costs

Budget: get it right and get your costs

The benefits of coming in within budget have been demonstrated in a case where the trial judge on summary assessment made a costs order for £351,000, to be paid within 14 days of his ruling.

Budgeting pioneer HHJ Simon Brown QC in Birmingham Mercantile Court said a detailed assessment had become “otiose” in the case.

Slick Seatings Systems & Anor v Adams & Ors [2013] EWHC B8 (Mercantile) saw HHJ Brown award £4.4m, with the claimed costs of £351,000 coming in under the approved budget of £359,000 – a sum which he said was proportionate to what was at stake.

The claimants have laudably kept within that budget and exercised due control over their activities and expenditure in an exemplary fashion… In my judgment [the amount claimed] is a sum which is, looking at each of the phases, is within the budget that was set and the claimants are to be commended with controlling their budget throughout this particular period.”

It was a case where, due to the defendants’ conduct of the case, indemnity costs were appropriate, which HHJ Brown said meant that in fact the costs budgeting, even if the claimants had exceeded the budget, “would not have come into play as far as this is concerned because it would be upon the defendant to show that the costs they had incurred, whether within or above the budget, were unreasonable”.

Writing recently for the New Law Journal, HHJ Brown noted that the case showed that “if you are successful at trial and are awarded costs on a standard basis, you stand a good chance of obtaining an order for payment of your costs within 14 days of judgment if you can demonstrate that you are within budget for each of your phases of work…

“There will be no need for the delay and expense of a detailed assessment. Your costs lawyer will be redundant at the end of the case and will have proved his worth for his involvement in accurate budgeting at the very beginning. Job done!