ADEQUATE TIME ESTIMATES: WAS THIRTY MINUTES LONG ENOUGH?

One other aspect of the judgment HHJ Lethem in Ivanoy -v- Lubble (Central London County Court 17th January 2020) relates to time estimates. It highlights the importance of giving appropriate time estimates, reviewing the estimate if the matter becomes complex and the difficulties posed to the courts when time estimates are not realistic.

THE CASE

The judge was hearing an appeal from a decision in relation to whether the defendant was liable to pay court fees when the claimant could have obtained fee remission. There were also complex issues in relation to whether the court had jurisdiction to hear an appeal on costs.

THE TIME ESTIMATE BEFORE THE DISTRICT JUDGE

The judgment runs to 62 paragraphs. The judge observed that the District Judge had been asked to deal with this issue in 30 minutes.

“3. Both parties filed skeleton arguments for the hearing. It is noteworthy that the District Judge had thirty minutes to adjudicate on the matter.  As he observed at the commencement of his judgment.
“At the outset of the hearing, I expressed scepticism that the arguments raised in the skeletons could actually be dealt with in the 30 minutes allowed for the hearing.  I was invited to deal with it within the time allowed.  The argument has been economical and to the point.”
I have not had to operate under any such pressure of time and it is apparent to me that counsel have been able to develop arguments to a much greater extent on the appeal.  With the benefit of hindsight, I wonder if it was wise for counsel to press on with the matter with an inadequate time estimate.”