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France v McVeigh, Doncaster County Court, 26 June 2003

27 October 2003
The issues

Costs – base costs – Application to cap Claimant’s base costs.

The facts

The Claimant brought an action for personal injuries against the Defendant in respect of a road traffic accident. At an early stage in the litigation, the Defendants on the instructions of Insurers made an Application to put a cap in the Claimant’s base costs. Both parties agreed that the claim was suitable for the Fast Track. The Claimant’s costs estimate at conclusion of the case given in the Allocation Questionnaire was £9,000.00. The Defendant made an Application to place a cap on the base costs, the Claimant having the benefit of a Conditional Fee Agreement.

The decision

1. Bearing in mind the overriding objective, the Court had to be confident that placing a cap on parties’ costs would preserve an equal balance. It would be unfair to place a cap, if to do so would mean that the parties are no longer on an equal footing.

2. There was nothing before the Court suggesting that the Claimant’s Solicitors were seeking to inflate their costs.

3. Applications of this sort created delay and took up Court time. It would be disproportionate to spend time considering costs on a theoretical basis at an early stage in the litigation when the costs would in any event be subject to assessment at the end.

Application dismissed.

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