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Instant reward for 'immaculate' budget control

HHJ Simon Brown QC, the pioneer of costs budgeting, has given instant reward for keeping within a court approved budget, with a summary assessment of costs in the sum of £351,000 payable within 14 days.

SLICK SEATINGS SYSTEMS & ANOR V ADAMS & ORS [2013] EWHC B8 (MERCANTILE)

This was an action which began in February 2012 with the granting of a search order and other associated injunctive relief arising out of attempts by the first defendant working with the fourth defendant and through the second and third defendants' companies or trading names to hijack the business of the first claimant and thereby breaching the contractual and fiduciary obligations owed to both the claimants.

The Defendants absented themselves from participating in the proceedings, apart from the occasional e-mail, from an early stage. Judgment was entered against them and because they did not participate in the disclosure process, which was deemed particularly important, they were debarred from taking any further part in the proceedings.

At trial the claimants were awarded a total sum of £4,334,435 in damages, plus costs on the indemnity basis on account of the defendants' conduct. HHJ Brown QC had this to say...

"...this particular case...has been case managed throughout by me and therefore the activities of the claimants have been controlled to a certain extent by the active case management of the court. The claimants have co-operated in that process, as indeed they are obliged to do. By running this case with a costs budget, I approved a budget of a grand total of £359,710.35 pence for doing this case through to trial. In my judgment, that budget was proportionate to what was at stake: the £4.4 million sum that I have just awarded. The claimants have laudably kept within that budget and exercised due control over their activities and expenditure in an exemplary fashion. The statement of costs on 13th May 2013 (which is today) is favourably compared with the costs estimate of 22nd May 2012. The form is signed by the partner of the solicitors and a member of the client company as well, Mr Beasley; the grand total is £351,267.35 pence. In my judgment that is a sum which is, looking at each of the phases, within the budget that was set and the claimants are to be commended with controlling their budget throughout this particular period.

"I am in a position - bearing in mind this is a one-day trial although a lot of activity has taken place - to summarily assess these costs because I have been actively involved in managing this case throughout. I would know more about the costings of this case than any detailed costs judge would have. Therefore, it seems to me quite right that I should assess these costs today with all that knowledge."

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