February 17, 2016

Palmers successfully fights costs case in Technology and Construction Court

News Article

Palmers solicitors has successfully acted on behalf of two clients, in a case relating to a construction claim, at the Technology and Construction Court (TCC).

Adam Davis, who acted for two of the three defendants, succeeded in challenging both the Claimant’s and Third Defendant’s Costs Budget and his clients were also awarded their costs relating to the TCC hearing.

The TCC, a sub-division of the Queen’s Bench Division, was required to determine whether to approve costs budgets advanced by the parties to a construction claim.

The dispute related to alleged defects in the building of a leisure centre and had been listed for a six-day trial with ten factual witnesses and eight expert witnesses.

The first and second defendants, both represented by Palmers, had their £195,000 costs budget accepted by the other parties, but took issue with the costs budgets proposed by the claimants and the third defendant in the sums of around £392,000 and £322,000 respectively.

Adam Davis explained: “Stephen Furst QC looked at the parties’ overall budgets and had to decide whether they were reasonable and proportionate.

“The sums in issue were not large, particularly by TCC standards and the litigation was not complex but was typical of a defects claim.

“There was also the important question of reputation involved. There was nothing to justify expenditure over and above what was the norm for a six-day trial of this type. However, the court had no indication of what a normal sum for such a trial would be.

“In those circumstances, it could not conclude simply by looking at the bottom-line figures, that the claimants’ and third defendant’s budgets were unreasonable and disproportionate. However, it went on to look at the objections raised in relation to individual items claimed in those budgets.

“Looking at the individual items in both budgets, there were sums that had been budgeted for, which appeared disproportionate and, accordingly, the court decided these ought to be altered. In particular, sums claimed by the claimants in relation to counsel fees, expert reports and trial preparation were excessive.

“Disproportionate sums claimed by the third defendant included those in connection with the production of pleadings; solicitors’ time spent in connection with expert reports; the costs of expert reports; costs of counsel and solicitors attending the pre-trial review; costs of counsel and solicitors in preparing for trial; costs of solicitors attending trial, and costs associated with alternative dispute resolution and settlement.”

Mr Davis added: “Our clients were extremely satisfied with the outcome of this case and we were grateful also for expert representation by barrister, John Denis-Smith, of 39 Essex Street Chambers.”

For further information on the range of specialist legal services Palmers is able to offer the construction and engineering sectors, please contact us.