For those yet to read the preliminary judgment of Master Hurst, the Senior Costs Judge, in Motto & Ors v Trafigura Ltd & Anor  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  EWCA Civ 716;  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.