Paragon Costs were once again delighted to Co-Host the Bristol Costs Seminar with Guildhall Chambers on 2 May 2017 at M Shed, Bristol. Around 170 delegates attended the seminar, which was kindly sponsored by Arag and Wesleyan.
It was an honour to be joined by Stephanie Cope, District Judge and Regional Costs Judge as guest speaker. District Judge Cope provided some interesting and insightful advice on case and costs management, which began with District Judge Cope providing some background information in relation to case and costs management and advising on the role of the Court and the Court's powers.
District Judge Cope provided some useful advice on the starting point for Courts when considering costs management, being: the value of the claim; the total of the budget (particularly when taking into account proportionality); and the assumptions. When establishing the value of the claim, the Court will consider the Claim Form, Schedule of Loss and Particulars of Claim. District Judge Cope emphasised the importance of ensuring the value of the claim is stated on the Claim Form and that this matches the value contained within the Particulars of Claim.
Delegates were also reminded of CPR3.15(2), which allows parties to agree budgets, however, District Judge Cope reiterated the fact that even if costs budgets are agreed between the parties, the Court still needs to be satisfied that the costs contained within the budget are proportionate. If costs are disproportionate, the Court may decide not to make a costs management order.
Advice was provided in relation to the approach taken by the Courts with regards to case management hearings, particularly as to how the Courts deal with directions and budgets. District Judge Cope also advised that when considering whether an application should be made to revise a costs budget in respect of future costs in light of a significant development (under CPR PD 3E, 7.6) the issue raised must be something which was not known at the time of the CCMC. If the issue was known at the time of the CCMC, it is unlikely that the Court will approve the revisions.
Furthermore, District Judge Cope confirmed that the Court will not: approve incurred costs; undertake a detailed assessment; determine hourly rates; hear submissions on time/hourly rates; or give rulings on disbursements. It was confirmed that the Court should not be asked to 'assess’.
In addition to the above, District Judge Cope provided useful advice in relation to possible recitals to orders, orders which can be made and the effect of a costs management order. Recent cases, to include Merrix v Heart of England NHS Trust  EWHC B28 (QB), Harrison v Coventry NHS Trust and Sarpd Oil International Ltd v Addax Energy SA  EWCA Civ 120 were also discussed, as well as the potential impact of the same upon costs management. The impending review of fixed recoverable costs (report due by 31 July 2017), by Lord Justice Jackson, was also discussed.
Prior to District Judge Cope's talk, we also heard from Suzanne Staunton (Guildhall Chambers) on indemnity costs with James Bentley (Guildhall Chambers) expanding on this, along with a discussion on Part 36 and fixed costs, Nicholas Lee (Paragon Costs) on interest on costs, Lucy Baldwin (Paragon Costs) on additional liabilities, Oliver Moore (Guildhall Chambers) on recent developments and issues regarding Part 36 offers, James Wibberley (Guildhall Chambers) on fixed costs and contractual entitlements to payment and Claire Bullock (Paragon Costs) who provided an update on costs management. All 7 speakers provided interesting, insightful and useful advice on their chosen subject.
To conclude, a panel session was held to answer any questions raised and submitted via a mobile app by delegates throughout the day. Questions were raised regarding costs management, the position regarding Part 36 offers being inclusive of interest and the effect of fixed costs where there are pre-existing contractual obligations between the parties. The panel debated and answered all questions raised excellently.
For more information in respect of our forthcoming seminars, or to arrange an in-house seminar at your offices for your colleagues, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.