COST BITES 30: OTHER PEOPLE’S BUDGETS: NONE OF THESE BUDGETS IS UNREASONABLE OR DISPROPORTIONATE

It is always interesting to look at the figures involved in relation to costs budgeting.  We can see an example in the decision of Mr Roger Ter Haar KC in  University of Manchester v John McAslan & Partners Ltd & Anor [2022] EWHC 2750 (TCC) where the proposed budgets of four parties were all held to be reasonable and proportional.  This judgment gives us totals and also the phase figures.

 

THE CASE

The judge was budgeting in a case relating to the design and construction of buildings for the University of Manchester.   The claim was thought to be in the region of £13 million.

THE BUDGETS

The judge considered all the budgets and found each was reasonable and proportional.

    1. The headline figures proposed by the parties are as follows:
(1) UoM: £3,102,202.30 of which £1,538,496.50 has already been incurred, leaving £1,563,705.80 of estimated costs.
(2) JMP: £2,006,967.13 of which £809,427.67 has already been incurred, leaving £1,197,539.46 of estimated costs.
(3) LOR: £2,704,900.44 of which £856,337.94 has already been incurred, leaving £1,848,562.50 of estimated costs.
(4) Gifford: £968,347.27 of which £271,557.27 has already been incurred, leaving £696,790 of estimated costs.
    1. The parties’ incurred and projected costs are as follows:
Stage UoM JMP LOR Gifford
Pre-Action Costs £567,853.13 £40,645.61 £101,495.70 £85,154.87
Issue/Statements of Case £618,435.35 £240,681.93 £449,579.82 £77,415.50
CMC £66,000 £46,641 £95,845.42 £30,000
Disclosure £348,302.50 £336,254.69 £229,492.50 £120,035
Witness Statements £98,750 £77,550 £47,775 £73,000
Expert Evidence £386,645 £381,629.66 £580,827.30 £186,854.90
PTR £39,425 £41,220 £58,600 £20,815
Trial Prep £378,610 £343,157 £560,600 £167,120
Trial £226,150 £306,485 £405,037.50 £95,750
ADR £186,801.75 £192,702.24 £158,297.20 £51,197
Remedial Works £185,229.02      
Amendments     £17,450  
Architect Expert       £61,005
    1. As the authorities set out above show, I am required to approach this exercise “with the application of a fairly broad brush”.
    1. There is nothing in Gifford’s budget which can sensibly be regarded as disproportionate or unreasonable.
    1. Accordingly, what I am really concerned with are the budgets of UoM and the two Defendants. In considering those budgets, I do of course take into account Gifford’s criticisms of LOR’s budget as well as the cross-criticisms of the other three parties.
    1. In considering those three budgets, I start, as I have already indicated, from the position that this is a relatively high value claim (now in excess, it is said, of £13,741,464). Given the likely amount of the claim, I do not view the amounts put forward by any of the parties as being immediately surprising.
    1. Secondly, having considered the pleadings there is no doubt in my mind that this is a relatively complex case, involving a number of parties, and also very substantial areas of dispute both as to liability and quantum. Having regard to those matters, I do not find the estimates for disclosure or expert evidence surprising.
    1. Thirdly, it is noticeable that both Defendants project costs in excess of £2 million, and that LOR’s future estimated costs exceed UoM’s.
  1. I have considered the detailed submissions put before me in respect of the three budgets. In my view, using the required broad brush, none of those budgets is disproportionate or unreasonable. Accordingly, I approve each of those budgets.