Master of the rolls Lord Dyson is to hear three consecutive appeals over two days in an effort to clarify the post-Mitchell landscape on compliance with case management rules.
In an unusual decision, the Court of Appeal has listed three appeals together to be heard over 16 and 17 June.
All the cases are related to arguments influenced by the Mitchell judgment last November, when Dyson (pictured) refused relief from sanctions to a party that submitted a late costs budget.
The cases are intended to give some clarity for lawyers dealing with the fallout of the Jackson reforms last year, which introduced new case management rules.
Barrister Vikram Sachdeva, based at 39 Essex Street chambers, is acting for the appellant in one of the three cases: Utilise TDS Limited v Davies.
A statement by the chambers said: ‘Although there have been individual appeals on their facts to the Court of Appeal since Mitchell, there is no case which purports to resolve the various controversies of the Mitchell doctrine.
‘It is hoped that the court will give further guidance which will enable litigators to properly understand the application of the Mitchell principles and their limits.’
As well as Utilise TDS Limited v Davies, the other two cases are Decadent Vapuors Ltd v Bevan & Ors A3/2014/0767 and Denton & Ors v TH White Ltd & Anr A2/2014/0126.
Although the Mitchell case – backed with several subsequent High Court judgments – was thought to have heralded a new era of tough sanctions from the judiciary on case management, there have been signs of a softening approach.
Last month, High Court judge Sir David Eady overturned a decision to refuse a defendant lenience in the ‘interests of fairness and justice’. In another case His Honour Judge David Grant conceded a day’s delay in filing a costs budget was to be considered ‘trivial’ and not worthy of punishment.
But a partner at London firm Rosling King, Rebecca Sharpe, has warned that the courts are not likely to depart too far from the hardline approach.
Her firm recently successfully convinced a district judge to reject relief from sanctions after a defendant had relied on expert evidence obtained after the court-ordered deadlines, added a third party to proceedings and relied on witness evidence served after the deadline.
‘The rejection of all three of the defendant’s applications shows that the court is not softening its approach to non-compliance and is sticking to the strict Mitchell line,’ said Sharpe.
‘Time-wasting and non-compliance with the litigation timetable will not be tolerated in court.’