The post yesterday on the decision of Master Gordon-Saker in BNM -v-MGN Limited [2016] EWHC B13 (Costs) set out the case in some detail.  Here are the key points of that decision.


  • On an assessment of costs on the standard basis proportionality should prevail over reasonableness.
  • The court should first make an assessment of reasonable costs.
  • The court should then stand back and consider whether the total figure is proportionate.
  • If the total figure is not proportionate the court should make an appropriate reduction.
  • The test of proportionality applies to additional liabilities which remain recoverable after 1st April 2013.
  • A consequence of the reduction of the base costs to a proportionate figure will be that the success fee, a percentage of the base costs, also reduced.
  • When applying the new test of proportionality the court need not consider the amount of any additional liability separately from the base costs.
  • It was not intended that the costs should never exceed the sums in issue. The rules do not state that.
  • There will be cases in which the costs bear a reasonable relationship to the sums in issue even though they exceed those costs.
  • If an insurance premium is reduced on the grounds that it is disproportionate the court should identify the figure allowed.