The Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2013 (SI 2013/262) introduced to Part 3 of the Civil Procedure Rules, Section II, dealing with Costs Management. CPR r. 3.12 stresses that ‘the purpose of costs management is that the court should manage both the steps to be taken and the costs to be incurred by the parties to any proceedings so as to further the overriding objective’. For all multi track cases commenced on or after 1 April 2013, costs budgets must be filed and exchanged as required by the new rules or as the court otherwise directs.
The Practice Direction 3E, paragraph 6 (c) states that:
“In cases where a party’s budgeted costs do not exceed £25,000 or the value of the claim as stated on the claim form is less than £50,000, the parties must only use the first page of Precedent H.”
Precedent H itself is nine pages long and requires a break-down of costs relating to defined stages in the litigation process. Breaching the rule could result in a party being only entitled to their court fees, which is a significant sanction for non-compliance. It is therefore very important that the rule is applied correctly or a losing party could secure a windfall.
When it comes to legal drafting where figures and numbers are involved, a line has to be strictly drawn somewhere as a slight difference in figures could have a huge impact on a case. A well drafted direction should never leave doubts and room for arguments. £50,000 is clearly not “less than £50,000”.
A £50,000 claim comes with an obligation to file a full From H where a £49,999 claim does not. It is as simple as that. If the Civil Procedure Rules Committee had intended to exclude a £50,000 claim from filing a full Form H, the wordings of the rule would have included something like “value equal”, making it clear that “in claims with a value equal to or less than £50,000, the parties must only use the first page of Precedent H”.
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