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Published 9 abril 2020
Mr Justice Turner has reduced the claimants’ disputed future budgeted costs in the British Steel Coke Oven Workers Litigation by some £2.19 million, allowing less than 42.3% of the sum sought. Maurice Hutson and Others v Tata Steel UK Ltd  EWHC 771 (QB) serves as the most recent example of the courts exercising robust costs management powers to ensure only reasonable and proportionate costs are allowed. The claimants’ application to vary a previously budgeted sum was also dismissed and the defendant was awarded its costs of dealing with it.
Even taking into account that any case subject to a Group Litigation Order will by its nature involve significant costs, the sums sought by the claimants are staggering. Against the disputed future budgeted sums of £3.79 million claimed, £1.6 million was deemed to be proportionate and reasonable. Against four of the phases in dispute claimed at £3.2 million, the defendant had offered just over £1 million and the court allowed £1.4 million. On any analysis is it clear that the defendant’s sense of what was reasonable and proportionate accords with the objective view from the court, assisted by the Senior Costs Judge as an Assessor.
There are three particular points of interest to practitioners:
In summary, this case highlights the robust stance to costs management that the courts are prepared to take to ensure only proportionate and reasonable costs will be tolerated. We reported on a recent DACB experience here. The danger of submitting budgets which cannot be justified will result in significant reductions and a lack of credibility which might well impact the litigation significantly.
For more information or advice, please contact one of our experts in our costs team.
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Olugbenga Dansu, Jack Reynolds