Exempting mandatory costs budgeting for claims in excess of £2m may be ‘unnecessary and inappropriate’, a newly established sub-group of the Civil Procedure Rule committee has suggested.
An intervention from the Judicial Office in February ensured that high-value commercial cases would be exempt from impending Jackson reforms.
It meant that parties in those cases do not have to prepare a detailed budget setting out the entire costs of proceedings in time for the case management conference.
A consultation paper written by a sub-committee established specifically to examine the issue of exemption says it is now necessary to consider the matter afresh.
The paper noted that February’s decision was an ‘emergency solution’ created in the build-up to April’s Jackson reforms. Lord Dyson, master of the rolls, and the deputy head of civil justice Sir Stephen Richards are said to be ‘anxious’ the issue is reconsidered.
The paper said: ‘The costs management regime is an important new tool in the attempts to keep the costs of civil litigation within reasonable bounds. The obligation to produce costs budgets is an important part of that regime and there is no obvious reason why it should not apply to all specialist courts.’
The consultation will examine whether international litigants would be less likely to use domestic courts if they were subject to costs rules. It will look into qualified exemption for cases in the technology and construction court, chancery division and the mercantile courts.
The sub-committee will also ask if there are any other areas where unforeseen difficulties with mandatory costs budgeting and the costs management regime have arisen.
The sub-committee comprises Mr Justice Coulson (chairman), Mr Justice Sales, District Judge Lethem, barrister Edward Pepperall QC and solicitor Qasim Nawaz.
In addition, Mr Justice Hamblen has been co-opted onto the sub-committee to represent the commercial and mercantile courts.
The sub-committee will hold consultation meetings on 10 and 16 July in the Rolls Building in London and will accept written responses until 20 July.