MH Dispute Resolution

Tuesday 22 April 2014

What do Andrew Mitchell MP and Linford Christie have in common?

The obvious answer, of course, is that both have fallen foul of the tougher stance taken by the Courts following the Jackson procedural reforms. The relatively recent case of Andrew Mitchell MP -v- News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1537, which has come to be known by the moniker ‘Mitchell’, has had an enormous impact on the way in which litigation is now pursued in the English Courts.

The appellant, Andrew Mitchell MP (“M”) (the claimant in separate defamation proceedings) appealed to the Court of Appeal against the decision of the High Court that a sanction be imposed for his failure to file his costs budget on time.

As part of the Jackson reforms, which came into effect in April 2013, parties in litigation are now required to file costs budgets with the court at an early stage in which that party’s estimated costs to trial are set out in a detailed spreadsheet with (hopefully) reasoned analysis. The Court may then approve or reject the costs budgets of the parties bearing in mind the need to conduct litigation efficiently and at proportionate cost. If a party is successful at trial in the litigation then, generally speaking, it may recover only the sums projected in its costs budget. The practical effect of this process is that increasingly the costs of litigation are front-loaded for a party and parties are discouraged from expending large sums on litigation.