No revision of budget absent significant developments

Seekings & Ors v Moores & Ors [2019] EWHC 1476 (Comm)

The Defendant applied to increase its budget by £130,000 citing ‘significant developments’ in the action.

Budgets were agreed ahead of the CCMC, at which time the Claimant had already served Requests for Further Information (“RFIs”). The initial replies to the RFIs were not deemed satisfactory and subsequently became the subject of interim applications brought by the Claimant.

The Defendant’s application was made on the basis that (i) significant costs had been incurred in addressing the RFIs and (ii) that a greater than anticipated number of documents had been produced.

The Judge found no significant development in the proceedings. The RFIs preceded, and were therefore anticipated within, the budget. In addition, the crux of the application was that the Defendants had failed adequately to reply to the RFIs (on more than one occasion, resulting in adverse costs).  It followed that the Defendant could not recover their costs of the applications relating to their failures to reply to the RFIs.

The Judge also refused the application for revision in respect of the additional disclosure documents as these were the Defendant’s own documents. The Defendant should have reasonably anticipated the extent of its own disclosure.

This case reaffirms that it is inconsistent with the overriding objective to allow parties to amend budgets because they have overlooked something or erred in estimations, or where the case develops in a way that should have been foreseen.

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