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Cost Law Commentary

Outstanding judicial case and cost management

As noted in a previous post, there are clear indications that the Australian judiciary are focused on providing access to justice in part by requiring litigants and their lawyers to adopt a pragmatic and effective approach to litigation at a proportionate cost.  But this approach is not limited to Australia.  I have had the particular pleasure of observing His Honour Judge Simon Brown QC exercise judicial case and cost management in the Birmingham Civil Justice Centre.  Judge Brown QC has had the responsibility of piloting judicial cost management, as recommended by Lord Justice Jackson as part of his Review of Civil Litigation Costs in the UK.  He is a refreshingly proactive judicial officer, and skilled in cost budgeting, reflecting in part his understanding of project management gained from his time as a commercial silk. In one recent decision, Mortgage Agency Services Number Four Limited v Alomo Solicitors, he ordered the defendants to pay indemnity costs, due to the way the defendants (a firm of solicitors), had conducted the case, raising spurious defences to a straightforward claim and thereby causing the claimant to incur costs which were disproportionate to the amount of the claim.

In his judgment, His Honour notes that there is a long history of judicial disapproval of what are seen as abuses of the court process, through ineffective conduct of a case.   He refers to a 1596 case of Mylward v Weldon [1595] EQHC Ch1, where the Lord Keeper ordered that a prolix pleading of 120 pages have a hole cut in it, be placed over the head of pleader, and the pleader be lead around Westminster Hall whilst the Courts were in session.

Judicial case management at its finest?

*Judge Brown is part of the international faculty at the Tasmanian Advocacy Convention between 15 and 17 November 2012.