A sub-committee of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) has been consulting on the existing exemptions to automatic costs management.
The sub-committee considered:
- Whether the blanket exception to automatic costs management in the Admiralty and Commercial Courts should be retained.
- Whether the current value-based exemption in the Chancery Division, the Technology and Construction Court (TCC) and the Mercantile Court should remain, or whether it should be qualified by reference to financial value, and if so, which financial level.
- Whether or to what extent Part 8 claims (including judicial review) should be excluded from the new costs management regime, given that they are designed to be quick and inexpensive.
- Whether any other types of claim should be exempted from costs management.
Whilst the outcome of the consultation is still awaited, a recent meeting of committee in December 2013 gives us some idea about the possible approach going forward. Papers released on 25 February 2014 show that the following recommendations are made:
- Costs management should apply to all cases, save where the amount in dispute exceeds £10 million.
- The exception should apply across all courts.
- Courts should retain a discretion to apply costs management in cases where the sum in dispute is more than £10 million, and have a discretion not to apply costs management in individual cases below the threshold.
- The existing exceptions for proceedings subject to scale or fixed costs should continue, and there should be an exception for Part 8 claims.
Lord Dyson and Richards LJ did not consider that it was appropriate to continue on the basis of the current rules. Allowing parties to opt out would be contrary to the "Jackson principles". It is noted from the papers that they would have had no hesitation in favouring an approach of no exceptions, were it not for the strong concerns raised in response to the consultation.
They suggested that there should be further consideration of whether the threshold should be by reference to the "amount in dispute" or the "amount at stake".
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