Costs Budgets and Plebgate

By | 8th August 2013

It is a reasonably sound bet that when former Chief Whip, Andrew Mitchell, attempted to leave Downing Street with his bicycle, he never expected to be forging new law a few months later.

The story is, of course, well known. When trying to leave via the security gates, Mitchell became embroiled in an argument with the police about which gate he should use. It is alleged that he swore at the police and called them “plebs.” Mr Mitchell denies that he called the policeman a pleb and the matter rumbles on with police inquiries, court cases and Mr Mitchell’s political career currently on hold.

Now it seems that News Group Newspapers is set to double the volume of case law for which it is responsible in the area of cost budgets following the Jackson reforms.

After Henry v NGN, both at first instance and in the Court of Appeal, NGN has now locked horns with Mr Mitchell in his libel action against The Sun which reported the original incident in terms which Mr Mitchell says were libellous. The newspaper denies libel and says that the report was in the public interest.

Now there has been a preliminary skirmish which appears to have gone the way of the newspaper. The Lawyer magazine reports that the costs judge has refused an application by Mr Mitchell’s lawyers for relief from sanctions after his lawyers failed to file a costs budget at court at least seven days before the CMC.

If anyone doubted the willingness of the courts to enforce the spirit behind and the substance of the Jackson reforms, they should think again.

The judge said that:

“Budgeting is something which all solicitors by now ought to know is intended to be integral to the process from the start, and it ought not to be especially onerous to prepare a final budget for a CMC even at relatively short notice if proper planning has been done.”

The Lawyer article “How The Sun is helping shape the Jackson era” is here.