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Sylvia Henry v News Group Newspapers

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The Claimant in this case* was a social worker who was involved in the Baby P case. Following the death of Baby P, the Defendant published a series of articles in The Sun newspaper, calling for their readers to sign an online petition for the dismissal of the Claimant from her post. The case ultimately settled and the Claimant was entitled to recover legal costs on the standard basis.

This was one of the first cases to be dealt with under the pilot scheme of costs budgeting that started in October 2011 at the Royal Courts of Justice and the District Registry in Manchester.

The case was dealing with the question of whether there was a good reason for the Claimant to depart from the costs budget approved by Court. The Claimant suggested that the costs budget was exceeded due to the tactics adopted by the Defendant, which gave rise to extra work, and that this was a good reason to depart from the costs budget.

The Defendant disputed this and submitted that the Claimant failed to comply with the terms of Practice Direction by failing to inform the Defendant and the Court of the significant increase in costs.

Having heard the submissions, Chief Master Hurst agreed that if a Defendant makes the Claimant do extra work, the Defendant must pay for the same. However, as the Claimant failed to comply with the Practice Direction, it was found that the Claimant had no good reason to depart from the budget as approved by Court.

Although the decision in this case is not binding on any other Court, the issues raised in this case are important, especially when costs management will apply to all multi-track cases (except those in the Admiralty and Commercial Courts) commenced on or after 1 April 2013.

Click here to read the full decision on the BAILII website.

*Sylvia Henry v News Group Newspapers LTD [2012] EWHC 90218 (Costs)