This case involved a claim for personal injury after the Claimant suffered an allergic reaction from eating cashew nuts at the Defendant’s café, despite previously warning them of his allergy.
Proceedings were issued in the substantive matter and a CCMC was listed with the parties to file and serve their cost budgets.
Instead of preparing a full budget to Trial, the Claimant prepared a partial budget which omitted to include any figures for the trial preparation or trial phases. The intention of this was to have Directions up to a further CCMC, rather than up to the Trial.
The parties filed and served their budgets with the Defendant agreeing all the phases in the Claimant’s budget and the CCMC took place shortly thereafter before Master Thornett. At the hearing the Master dealt with full Directions up to Trial and therefore held that the Claimant’s budget did not comply with PD 3E i.e. the Claimant did not obtain the Court’s permission nor did the Court direct that budgets were to be limited initially to part only of the proceedings. As a consequence, Master Thornett applied the sanction at CPR 3.14 which allows for the recovery of applicable court fees only. The Master also indicated that the Claimant could apply to the Court for relief from sanctions.
The Claimant appealed Master Thornett’s Order and also applied for relief from sanctions. On appeal, the Claimant argued that the Master had erred in law in applying CPR 3.14.
The appeal was heard before Walker J. The Claimant’s argument that the Master was wrong to apply the sanction given a cost budget had been filed was rejected. However Walker J did accept that the Master had failed to consider the wording of the sanction of “unless the Court otherwise ordered”.
Walker J then applied the approach taken in Denton v TH White Ltd and noted that the Claimant had not impeded the costs management process in relation to earlier phases, he had genuinely considered a second CCMC would be needed and mistakenly thought that in such circumstances it was appropriate to file a budget which left out the trial preparation and trial phases for consideration later. Finally, Walker J noted that there was a clear distinction between what had happened in relation to the trial preparation and trial phases and what had happened in relation to earlier phases.
As a result, Walker J ruled that the sanction at CPR 3.14 should only be applied partially to the phases of trial preparation and trial instead of the entire budget phases.
In conclusion a full budget should always be completed even where the Defendant has agreed the approach, unless permission from the Court has been obtained.