Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd

The Court of Appeal has unanimously dismissed the appeal in the costs budgeting case of Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd [2013] EWCA Civ 1526 (part of the “Plebgate” saga).

Although the decision is itself crucially important for costs budgeting purposes – fail to serve and file a budget on time and your costs will be limited to court fees only, with no real hope of relief from sanctions – it has much wider implications for the future of civil litigation. The courts can now be expected to take a very robust approach to compliance with rules. Failures to comply will be punished harshly. Relief from sanctions applications will be doomed to failure unless unusual circumstances can be shown for the breach. A mere failure to show prejudice will not come close to being sufficient.

Conclusion of the Court’s judgment:

“In the result, we hope that our decision will send out a clear message. If it does, we are confident that, in time, legal representatives will become more efficient and will routinely comply with rules, practice directions and orders. If this happens, then we would expect that satellite litigation of this kind, which is so expensive and damaging to the civil justice system, will become a thing of the past.”

13 thoughts on “Mitchell v News Group Newspapers Ltd

  1. Have you not put your clocks back over there??

    Will be good to see the streams of new converts to budgets now that the mighty have spoken.

  2. Someone had better tell [a certain Master*] because he’s still granting relief from sanctions at the drop of a hat.

    *Edited by Webmaster

  3. However the Defendants can still miss key dates like filing a defence and the Court will still allow the defence in the interests of justice.

    A shocking decision and no doubt every independent cost draftsman will be looking to increase their PI insurance.

    Dealing the pressures of a file load pre April was difficult however post April is now too much. We are all human and we will ALL make mistakes/miss deadlines, does that really warrant a strike out?

  4. @The white book – why should independent costs draftsmen have to increase their PI insurance ? At the end of the day, the client signs off the budget in the same way that it signs of points of dispute and a bill of costs so as long as the c/d communicates with his client about deadlines, it won’t be the c/d’s fault. Just comply with the rules, don’t take on a deadline that you can’t meet and don’t buy into this clap trap about “only the biggest firms of costs lawyers will survive”.

  5. I don’t understand the surprise and shock following this decision. The Court of Appeal were never going to overturn the initial finding and they were correct not to. Rules are rules, and given the nature of the updated overriding objective, which everyone should have been aware of, they only have themselves to blame.

  6. You will never guess what! I have only just had to rush down to a client’s office to prepare an urgent out of time Budget!! You couldnt make this stuff up!! happy days. I of course made sure they agreed to pay me irrespective of any court decision having regard to Mitchell!!! I certainly will not be increasing my PI. I have a diary, unlike most solicitors by the sounds of it!!!

  7. Where does this sit with the SCCO guide and 8.3 applications? I appreciate that there is no set sanction on 8.3.

    Is the court going to view repeated failures as trivial?

  8. I think that the SCCO will regard 8.3 for what it is – i.e. a complete pile of pants. That said, I would not want to risk not making one in the present climate.

  9. Will it be harder now to set aside a Default Costs Certificate unless you can show that the failure to serve PODs in time was due to a myocardial infaction?

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