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Costs Procedure: The importance of filing statements of costs on time in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules (Tribe v Elborne Mitchell LLP – 2021)

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Where a claimant failed to file and serve his statement of costs within the time frame stipulated by the Civil Procedure Rules, was any sanction applied by the court?

The background

In Tribe v Elborne Mitchell LLP [2021], the claimant brought proceedings against his former employers. The court listed a directions hearing in respect of one specific aspect of his heads of claim, which took place on 19th March 2021. There followed a dispute regarding the costs order. The parties made written submissions on costs, with the claimant seeking an order that the defendant pay his costs on an indemnity basis.

The defendant argued that the claimant had served his statement of costs late, after the hearing had taken place, and could not therefore rely on it under the Civil Procedure Rules Practice Direction R44. Paras 9.5(4) and 9.6 of R44 state that a statement of costs is to be filed with the court and served on the opposing party not less than 24 hours before a hearing.

The decision

The High Court found that the claimant had breached CPR PD 44, and took this failure to meet the requirements of the CPR into account.

Referring to an earlier case of MacDonald v Taree Holdings [2001], the court should consider whether any prejudice is caused by the failure. Where no prejudice is found, costs will be assessed in the normal way. Where prejudice is found, the court should consider whether there are any aggravating factors. In the present case, the court found no prejudice, no aggravating factors and the defendant was able to make submissions, so the court assessed the claimant’s costs as normal.

Advice and action for landlords

Although not a property-specific matter, the points raised in this decision are important procedurally, particularly where individuals are representing themselves as litigants in person.

A statement of costs must be filed and served at least 24 hours before a hearing, even where the hearing is a standard directions hearing.

The High Court found that, in failing to file and serve a statement of costs before the hearing, the claimant had breached CPR PD 44, and the court took this failure to meet the requirements of the CPR into account.

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