I am grateful to Ben Millns from Kennedys for sending me a copy of the decision in Parsons -v- Stevens, a copy of which is available here. Deputy District Judge Fentem decided that it was appropriate to make an order under CPR 18 compelling the defendant to give a breakdown of how the fee was reached in a medical report.  In default of compliance the fee was set at £1,500. A copy of the judgment is available here.G33BI961 Tanis Parsons v Brian Stevens Judgment


“The parties are required to help the court to further the overriding objective: CPR r.1.3. Part of dealing with a case justly includes acting with a view to saving expense: CPR r.1.1(2)(b). The Defendant is therefore obliged to consider whether to accept the Disbursement or to make a counter-offer, with a view to avoiding the costs of a determination. To make an informed decision, the Defendant needs to have information.”


The claimant had a personal injury case that settled for £25,000.  The claimant had obtained a report from a pain management expert and the fee for that report was £7,056.00.  The defendant made a Part 18 request for a breakdown of the fee, distinguishing the fee paid to the doctor from the agency fee.  The claimant failed to comply and the defendant made an order that the claimant respond.


The judge decided that it was appropriate to make an order.  If the defendant did not comply then the consequence would be that the fee would be set at £1,500 – £1,250 representing the doctor’s fee and £250 the agency fee.


2.6. On 12 March 2023, the Defendant made a CPR Part 18 request of the Claimant as
follows (‘the Request’):

‘The following Part 18 Request for Further Information is served pursuant to CPR
44.5 and Hutchings v Transport Police Authority (2006). The Defendant (and the
court) is entitled to understand the claim for costs as presented for payment
between the parties; and in particular, the nature of the medical agencies’ fees as
per Stringer v Copley (2002) and Charman v John Reilly (Civil Engineering) Ltd
(2013). The Defendant further relies upon the decision of Lords Justices Davis and
Hickinbottom in Gempride Ltd v Bamrah & Lawlords of London Ltd [2018] EWCA
Civ 1367, particularly at para 26 i).
The Defendant requires the further information as requested below in order to be
on an equal footing with the Claimant as per the overriding objective of the Civil
Procedure Rules (r1.1); and to fully understand the claim for costs which is
presented for payment between the parties:-
1. What were the fees of Dr Luscombe in respect of the medical report invoiced
under reference OT/I556699 [this appears to be a typographical error: the
invoice number is OT/1665599]?
2. What was the medical agency’s fee in respect of the same invoice?
The Defendant requires a formal signed Response to this Part 18 Request for
Further Information to be served by 26th March 2023.’
2.7. The reference to CPR r.44.5 appears to be a mistake, but nothing turns on that. The
Claimant replied on 22 March 2024 (‘the Claimant’s Reply’):
‘As previously advised, we are not in receipt of a breakdown of the medical agency
We have liaised with the medical agency regarding your part 18 request and have
been provided with the attached response.
As you will see from the medical agency’s response, at this time, they are not
persuaded that they ought to disclose any further information to either us or
yourselves. The medical agency is unwilling to provide commercially sensitive
data as they do not consider the request to meet the test set out in PD18 1.2, in that
the information does not cover matters which are reasonably necessary and
proportionate to enable the Defendant to prepare its own case.
Given the Medical agencies [sic] comments, and the fact they confirm they have
been successful in resisting an application made against a Claimant pursuant to
CPR Part 18 Request for Further information, namely the MRO fee breakdown, we
will not be pursuing the part 18 request any further.’


Part 18 Requests
6. Although his skeleton argument asserted that CPR Part 18 was inapplicable, in the course
of his oral submissions Mr Finn accepted that, if there was any power to order a breakdown
of the Disbursement in a situation such as the present (where there is to be, or may be, a
determination of costs), it was exercisable via the CPR Part 18 procedure. Mr Finn’s
concession is right. Given that an application for a costs determination is not a detailed
assessment process, the skeleton argument’s reference to detailed assessment was
7. CPR r.18.1 and r.18.2 provide:
(1) The court may at any time order a party to –
(a) clarify any matter which is in dispute in the proceedings; or
(b) give additional information in relation to any such matter,
whether or not the matter is contained or referred to in a statement of case.
(2) Paragraph (1) is subject to any rule of law to the contrary.
(3) Where the court makes an order under paragraph (1), the party against whom it is made
must –
(a) file their response; and
(b) serve it on the other parties,
within the time specified by the court.
The court may direct that information provided by a party to another party (whether given
voluntarily or following an order made under rule 18.1) must not be used for any purpose
except for that of the proceedings in which it is given.’
8. CPR PD18 para.1.1 requires that, before an application is made, a party seeking to obtain
an order of the court under CPR r.18.1 must first have served a written request for
clarification or information. CPR PD18 para.1.2 provides:
‘A Request should be concise and strictly confined to matters which are reasonably
necessary and proportionate to enable the first party to prepare his own case or to
understand the case he has to meet.’
9. The court has a discretion under CPR r.18.1 as to whether to order a party to clarify a matter
or give additional information. That discretion is not unfettered, since it must be exercised
in accordance with the overriding objective (CPR r.1.1). Further, given that an application
will be preceded by a written request served under CPR PD18 para.1.1, I should be
particularly concerned with the whether the matters raised in a request satisfy CPR PD18
para.1.2. An assessment of proportionality requires me to weigh up, insofar as these
matters are evidenced or can be estimated, the benefit to the Defendant of receiving the
information or clarification against the cost to the Claimant of giving it: see notes to the
White Book 2024 (Volume 1) at para.18.1.10.


Analysis and Decision

22. I must first address the argument that the Claimant has already answered the Request, and
is unable to force Premex to tell him anything more. The former assertion proves too much:
the Claimant’s Reply is substantially not an answer but a summary of the Premex Letter,
and if I otherwise consider that the Claimant should provide further detail I am not
constrained by the content (or lack of content) of the Claimant’s Reply. The latter assertion
must be evidenced if I am to be satisfied that the Claimant has proved it to the civil standard.

23. Dr Luscombe is the Claimant’s expert, instructed by or on behalf of the Claimant after he
(and nobody else) was given the permission of the court to rely on Dr Luscombe’s report.
Those circumstances present a prima facie reason to conclude that the Claimant can tell the
Defendant how much Dr Luscombe was paid for his work. The Claimant has not disclosed
the terms of any agreement with Premex, and I therefore have no documentary evidence
which might lead me to conclude that the Claimant is unable to compel Premex to tell him
the breakdown. I do not accept Mr Finn’s characterisation of the Claimant’s Reply as in
some way containing evidence that the Claimant is unable to compel Premex to respond.
It simply makes no reference, expressly or implicitly, to the Claimant’s lack of compulsive
powers with respect to Premex.

24. The Premex Letter contains an assertion to that effect, but it is for the reasons I have given
unsupported by anything except its own vehemence. Furthermore, in my reading, what
Premex is saying in the Premex Letter is that it would, however reluctantly, disclose the
information necessary to enable the Claimant to respond if an order was made. I am entitled
to take it at its word.

25. For these reasons, I do not consider that the argument from lack of compulsive power is
meritorious. I do not therefore need to decide whether Gempride is authority for the
proposition that the reluctance of Premex is in any event not a permissible answer to the
application because Premex is the Claimant’s (or his solicitors’) agent. My preliminary
view is that Gempride was decided in a very different context, namely that of a solicitor
who had certified a misleading bill of costs in reliance on the erroneous statements of a
costs draftsperson. The Court of Appeal was not concerned with agency, but instead with
conduct and responsibility for that conduct. It does not appear to me that the statement at
para.26(i) should be divorced from that context.

26. I go on to consider whether the further information requested is reasonably necessary to
enable the Defendant to understand the case he has to meet (i.e. in the determination of
costs) or to prepare his own case, and whether to order a reply would be proportionate to
the matters in issue.

27. CPR r.45.29I(2)(a) itself is silent as to whether ‘the cost of obtaining medical records and
expert medical reports’ should be assessed by reference to a global invoice only or by
reference to an invoice showing a breakdown of the global fee. It does not direct the costs
judge that she must only be concerned with the global fee. In the present application, I am

only concerned whether I should exercise my discretion to order a reply to the Request, so
that the Defendant may have a breakdown available to him (and by extension so that any
costs judge may have a breakdown available in a determination).
28. The Disbursement covers some of the work which would have been subject to fixed costs
if it had been done by the Claimant’s solicitors, but will fall to be determined if not agreed
and is therefore subject to the principles of reasonableness and proportionality: see
paragraph 12 above. Although any doubt about reasonableness or proportionality will be
resolved in favour of the Defendant under CPR r.44.3(2)(b), this does not mean that there
are no circumstances in which the Claimant should be obliged to give more information
about a disbursement. In an application under CPR Part 18, whether I should make an
order depends on the context of the application and of the case.

29. I accept that costs judges (including me) have made decisions about disbursements in fixed
costs cases without a breakdown. This proves no more than that a breakdown has not
historically been treated as absolutely indispensable to an assessment or determination.
That is not the test I have to apply, which instead is one of reasonable necessity. Moreover,
it is obvious from the County Court cases to which the parties have taken me that
determinations are sometimes with great reluctance: see Charman v John Reilly (Civil
Engineering) Ltd (22 May 2013, District Judge Woodburn), Wilkinson-Mulvanny v UK
Insurance Ltd (19 Jan 2023, District Judge Phillips) (in which the Judge expressly
‘encourage[d]’ parties to provide breakdowns in the future) and Aminu-Edu v Esure
Insurance Company Ltd (8 March 2024, His Honour Judge Saggerson).

30. In this case, the Disbursement is £5,880 plus VAT, in the context of a claim which was
allocated to the fast track; I agree with Mr Miller that the sum raises immediate concerns
about its proportionality, and that a breakdown of its constituent parts may assist a costs
judge in her proportionality assessment. If, for instance (without intending to affect the
result of an application for determination), £1,500 was paid to Dr Luscombe, the court
might well conclude that that was proportionate, but that £4,380 was not a proportionate or
reasonable sum with respect to the Premex Costs. The categories of work comprising the
two elements are very different. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine the hypothetical costs
judge coming to different conclusions on exactly the same global sum, depending on the
breakdown. These sorts of arguments are only available to the Defendant if a breakdown
is provided.

31. The parties are required to help the court to further the overriding objective: CPR r.1.3.
Part of dealing with a case justly includes acting with a view to saving expense: CPR
r.1.1(2)(b). The Defendant is therefore obliged to consider whether to accept the
Disbursement or to make a counter-offer, with a view to avoiding the costs of a
determination. To make an informed decision, the Defendant needs to have information.
In some cases, the MRO’s global fee will or ought to be enough for it to do so. I accept
that in this case, given the amount of the Disbursement in the context of the pleaded value
of the claim, I agree that the Defendant is justified in saying that it needs more information
to consider its position.

32. In my judgment, the Defendant is reasonably entitled to be in a position to know what the
calculated basis of the Disbursement is, in order that it may accept or challenge it as
appropriate. I conclude that the information the Defendant seeks is reasonably necessary
for it to understand the Claimant’s claim to the Disbursement and for the Defendant to
prepare its own case in response.

33. As to proportionality:
33.1. I take into account that a fixed costs determination is not intended to be as intricate
as a detailed assessment. The process ‘inevitably contains swings and
roundabouts, and lawyers who assist claimants by participating in it are
accustomed to taking the rough with the smooth’: Sharp v Leeds City Council
[2017] 4 WLR 98 at para.41, per Lord Justice Briggs. A defendant must also take
the rough with the smooth.
33.2. However, (i) the Disbursement is substantial when compared to the pleaded value
of the claim, and (ii) the Claimant has not offered any evidence of what the costs
of providing a response might be. On the evidence and from obvious inference,
Premex is capable of telling the Claimant’s solicitors the sum of Dr Luscombe’s
Fee; indeed, there is no evidence that Dr Luscombe himself would be unable to do
so. In the absence of an evidenced explanation otherwise, it is difficult to imagine
how it would be an especially time-consuming or expensive exercise to provide
information about Dr Luscombe’s Fee.
33.3. Therefore, it would not be disproportionate to require a response in this case.
Approved Judgment Parsons v Stevens

34. Commercial sensitivity is not a sufficient reason to refuse to make an order under CPR Part
18, and has not in any event been explained or evidenced beyond Premex’s assertion. I am
satisfied that a direction under CPR r.18.2 would suffice to allay any concern.

35. In conclusion, therefore, ordering a reply to the Request is reasonably necessary and
proportionate to the matters now at stake in these proceedings. I shall exercise my
discretion in favour of requiring the Claimant, by a date to be determined when I hand down
judgment, provide a response to the Request, albeit slightly tweaked. I suggest the
following, but will hear submissions on the precise words:
With respect to the application for payment of the sum of £7,056.00 (including VAT) dated
12 October 2023 citing request number OT/1665599, identify the total sum paid or payable
to Dr Luscombe in respect of his expert report in claim number G33BI961.

36. That ought to be sufficient to provide the Defendant with the information he needs, given
that I have been told that the balance of the Disbursement will be the Premex Costs. If that
is incorrect, doubtless Premex will volunteer a more detailed explanation.

37. I will give a direction under CPR r.18.2. A similar restriction on use would apply to
disclosed documents under CPR r.31.22 and to witness statements under CPR r.32.12
(subject in each case to specified exceptions). A CPR Part 18 request is obviously different
from these, but I see some force in the suggestion that there is a starting point that
information disclosed in the course of proceedings should prima facie be restricted to use
in those proceedings at least until used in a public hearing. Taking into account the Premex
Letter, it seems to me that it is fair to restrict the use of the information accordingly.

38. Finally, the Defendant has invited me to impose a sanction for non-compliance by way of
disallowing any of the Disbursement. In my judgment, a failure to comply must carry some
consequence. Otherwise the order would be toothless; the Claimant could choose not to
reply and leave it to a costs judge to assess the Disbursement globally. However, the
proposed sanction is too draconian. It is more satisfactory to identify a specified sum that
the Claimant will recover unless a reply is given. In calculating that sum I must endeavour
to calculate a minimum reasonable and proportionate sum, erring squarely in the
Defendant’s favour out of an abundance of caution. Taking into account what I have said
about Dr Luscombe’s report, I will order that unless the Claimant provides a response by
the date to be determined, the Disbursement shall be assessed in the sum of £1,500 plus
VAT. I should follow my own prescription and give a breakdown: this allows a sum of

£1,250 for Dr Luscombe’s Fee, with the £250 balance representing the Premex Costs. This
is not intended in any way to fetter the discretion of a costs judge on determination