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Legal Costs Costs Budgeting “There are many more complex and less obvious pitfalls to the budgeting process than neglecting to file a Budget by deadline…” Much of the recently publicised case law apparently about the new Costs Budgeting regime has not concerned itself with the real substance of the process; which is how will Judges and Masters be assessing Budgets at initial CMC’s and how can Claimants draw budgets, and advocate at CMC’s to ensure the most beneficial outcome? Whilst practitioners are rightly concernedabout case law like the widely circulated first instance decision in the Andrew Mitchell “plebgate” case this judgement, although concerning a costs budget, is really about the stricter “blood on the floor” application of the new post April CPR3.9. We are now starting to see, however, judgements concerning the reduction of receiving parties budgets at CMC’s. The decision in CRM TRADING LTD v CHUBB ELECTRONIC SECURITY LTD (2013) provides encouragement in that it states that Judges should take a cautious approach when reducing Costs Budgets (notwithstanding that the budget in that case was reduced). This is offset by reports of Master Cook slashing a Clinical Negligence budget on a liability admitted Cerebral Palsy claim from £1m to circa £430k. Paul Kay Head of Budgeting, Having had the benefit of a personal discussion in which I received Master Cook’s manifestly erudite views on Costs Budgeting as long ago as February 2013 it is clear he is not among those apocryphal “regional District Judges” who practitioners worry will be considering budgets with limited training and therefore understanding of the issues, so his reductions would not have been without reason. (this budget will therefore be very high and subject to possible reductions at CMC) or a budget based on how it is anticipated the case will progress with tightly drawn assumptions on that basis (this budget will have to be monitored religiously once approved and the receiving party will need to re- turn to their opponent and if ne- cessary the Court if those assumptions are breached). In our conversation, Master Cook stressed to me the importance of a pro- perly drafted set of contingencies and/or assumptions and stated a budget co- ming before him without them was the budget of a party who didn’t understand the process. There is a very real and case specific tactical decision to be made as to hether to prepare a bud- get which deals with every contingency This decision is merely one of many tactical considerations in the complex process of preparing a Costs Budget, and practitioners eschew the input of costs specialists in the process (both of drafting and advocating at the CMC) at their peril – There are many more complex and less obvious pitfalls to the budgeting process than neglecting to file a Budget by deadline… 11