Lawyers will be set much shorter deadlines to file their costs budgets under a new draft rule agreed by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC).
The CPRC has decided that budgets for claims worth over £50,000 should be filed three weeks before the costs management conference (CMC). 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.
Minutes of last month’s CPRC meeting last month reveal that Mr Justice Coulson, chair of the costs budgeting subcommittee, said various amendments had been incorporated into the revised draft of CPR 15.62, but “one issue remained unresolved” – the timing of filing and service of the budget.
“The committee heard arguments in favour of the majority view that the budget should be filed 21 days before the CMC, and in favour of the other strong view that it should be filed at an earlier stage.
“The committee agreed a compromise – that budgets for a claim of a monetary value less that £50,000 should be filed with the directions questionnaire, and for those with a monetary value over £50,000 should be filed 21 days before the CMC.”
The minutes did not say when Coulson J’s new costs budgeting rule would be introduced. However they revealed that following complaints from the Chancery Division, the CPRC’s decision in October to scrap the rules and practice directions on costs capping had been reversed.
The minutes state that the Chancery Division “flagged up that the rules were still relevant and used in pension and trust fund cases, where they proved a useful tool for capping costs in cases with a finite amount of money.
“The majority of such cases were agreed without the need for a cost capping order, but with the knowledge that the court had the power to make such an order. The committee agreed that the provisions should not, after all, be removed.”
On plans by the Department of Health for fixed costs in medical negligence cases, the CPRC said a “thorough and wide-ranging” consultation early next year would remove the need for a further consultation on the new rules.
The committee added that Professor Paul Fenn, Aviva chair of insurance studies at Nottingham University, had been recruited by the department to “consider the fixed costs structure”, along with its own panel of lawyers.