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South West Costs Seminar - 25 February 2016

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Paragon Costs were delighted to Co-Host the South West Costs Seminar with Guildhall Chambers on 25 February 2016 at the M-Shed in Bristol.

This event sold out within 24 hours of the first round of invites and therefore we extended the capacity allowing for up to 200 delegates from the South West. The event was kindly sponsored by Wesleyan. 

We were honoured to be joined by Simon Middleton, District Judge and Regional Costs Judge, who provided some insight on the forthcoming changes to the CPR and how these will be implemented in practice.

In particular District Judge Middleton emphasised his support of the costs management process, but explained that it should become a far more simple and efficient exercise under the new rules. He confirmed that the argument on hourly rates will be banished until Detailed Assessment proceedings under an additional paragraph 7.10 of Practice Direction 3E, which reasserts the fact that a costs management order relates only to the total allowances for each phase. Furthermore, parties to a claim with a stated value of less than £50,000 on the claim form will only be required to file the front page of the Precedent H form, and will file these budgets with the Directions Questionnaire. All other budgets will be filed not later than 21 days before the first case management conference, with the new budget discussion report filed at least 7 days before the hearing as defined in CPR 3.13(2). This change will remove the inconsistency between deadlines ordered in the Courts’ notices of allocation, and should also avoid the risk of significant delays between the parties' preparation of the budgets and the Court's costs management orders.

District Judge Middleton noted that these changes will enable the Courts to properly assess both the proposed directions and estimated costs claimed by each party to the litigation at a case and costs management hearing. The exercise will focus only on the total sums being claimed per phase, and the parties will need to justify the steps that they are seeking to take in the litigation and show that the corresponding costs of that work are proportionate. He emphasised the prevalence that proportionality now has in the costs management and assessment processes; and confirmed that the proportionality test will continue to be a case specific assessment in which the Court will review all of the factors listed in CPR 44.4(3).

Prior to hearing the views of District Judge Middleton; the delegates received practical guidance on costs maximisation and costs budgeting from Nicholas Lee and Claire Tomlin of Paragon Costs.  

Oliver Moore and James Wibberley from Guildhall Chambers rounded off this all-star line up with presentations covering solicitor own client disputes, proportionality and key legal costs developments.

The event concluded with a panel session which considered comments and questions submitted by the delegates throughout the day via a mobile app.

Issues ranging from the instruction of costs specialists, to the impact of successful Part 36 offers on fixed costs were discussed by all five speakers. The practical application of J-codes and cost budget assumptions were of particular debate.

For more information in respect of our forthcoming seminars, or to arrange an in-house seminar at your offices for your colleagues, please contact