Motto v Trafigura Ltd

For those yet to read the preliminary judgment of Master Hurst, the Senior Costs Judge, in Motto & Ors v Trafigura Ltd & Anor [2011] EWHC 90201 (Costs) (15 February 2011) don’t make the mistake that I did when visiting BAILII and press the print button. (My invoice for five reams of papers and a new printer cartridge is on its way to Master Hurst.)

Given the Claimants’ bills of costs totalled £104,707,772.72 it is perhaps not surprising that this is a fairly lengthy judgment.

To give a feeling for the nature of the detailed assessment, in the words of Master Hurst:

“I have been given electronic copies of the bills, which I am told run to some 55,000 items, all of which are challenged in the Points of Dispute. For the purpose of these key issues I was presented with in excess of 60 ring-binders of documents, and in spite of the remarks of the President of the Queen’s Bench Division, Sir Anthony May, in Khader v Aziz [2010] EWCA Civ 716; [2010] 1 WLR 2673, being drawn to the attention of the parties, the Defendants’ skeleton argument, including supporting schedules, ran to over 1,000 pages, this being in addition to a witness statement of Mr Nurney dealing with the key issues, which, with exhibits, ran to over 3,000 pages. The Claimants’ skeleton runs to 73 pages, and their supporting witness statements, including exhibits, run to 923 pages.”

There were three barristers acting for each party, including five QCs. However, given Nick Bacon QC acted for one side and Ben Williams for the other, one does have to wonder whether the others were somewhat surplus to requirements.

The scope of the judgment covers a wide range of preliminary issues. Although it is important to remember that this judgment is not binding, and there are some aspects of the judgment that other costs judges in the Senior Courts Costs Office are not following, this judgment is nevertheless likely to be produced at countless detailed assessments in the future as “authority” for various propositions. I will therefore try to put together a handful of short posts to discuss some of the more interesting aspects of this decision.

8 thoughts on “Motto v Trafigura Ltd

  1. Some of it is going to the Court of Appeal in June or July I am told, including (at last!) the issue of costs of funding. Meanwhile, I am informed the master has just reserved judgment on whether Gray v Toner was correctly decided on the interest question, with that issue also likely to be fast tracked to the Court of Appeal come what may. That will be an interesting read – especially given that counsel for the defendant in Gray is counsel for the claimants in this case!

  2. Thanks for the update Jacques. I have just checked the Court of Appeal case tracker and it says the hearing status of the appeal is: “Window of 19-Sep-11 to 19-Jan-12″.

    It’s will like all my Christmases rolled into one.

  3. Simon

    any chance those of you on the “doorstep” of the SCCO could invite them to update their website sometime soon with recent decisions? Not that we are getting behind any, but given costs is such a progressive area of legislation, it does seem rather wrong the SCCO seem to languish so far behind in its reporting; and this is something surely the ACL should be ideally placed to address with them?

  4. The SCCO now posts decisions on to Go to that cite, and via “England and Wales” cases look for “Senior Court Costs Office”. You can browse in various ways, and keep up to date by looking at cases for 2011 (which are updated and can be sorted by month so you see the new ones). That said, I don’t know why decisions of what are really just a group of London based district judges gets so much attention.

  5. Regarding searches of BAILII

    From time to time past years are updated and so you will be advised to check periodically.

    Further some cases are posted in the wrong year see Jan 2011 case posted at the end of 2010 section

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