Should bills be split pre and post April 2013? Gary Knight discusses

The question has been raised once again following the decision of the Senior Costs Judge, Master Gordon-Saker in the matter BP –v- Cardiff & Vale University Local Health Board [2015] EWHC B13

The matter involved a claim for costs arising from a dispute wherein a budget had been approved by the Judge.

The issues raised included a challenge to the preparation of the bill and in particular to the fact that the bill did not apportion costs to show work done under each phase of work thus there was no way for the paying party to compare costs set out in the budget as approved and the claim for costs now presented. Further the bill of costs did not split the work to show pre April and post April 2013 to consider work applying the “old” test of proportionality for the pre April 13 work and the “new” more robust proportionality test post April 2013.

The Senior Costs Judge confirmed that the bill should be prepared to show work undertaken for each phase where there is an approved budget and also to show work undertaken pre/post April 2013.

What appears to be overlooked in a number of reports on the case that suggest bills must be split for work carried out before and after 1 April 2013 is the rule provided at the time the new “proportionality” test was introduced.

The relevant rule, as contained in the Civil Procedure (Amendment No.2) Rules 2013 reads:

“Paragraphs (2)(a) and (5) do not apply in relation to—

(a) cases commenced before 1st April 2013; or (b) costs incurred in respect of work done before 1st April 2013,

and in relation to such cases or costs, rule 44.4.(2)(a) as it was in force immediately before 1st April 2013 will apply instead.”

Therefore where the claim was issued before April 2013 the old proportionality test is applied to all work and only where the proceedings were issued after April 2013 should the bill be split to allow the application of the old test of proportionality for work up to 31 March 2013 with the new approach adopted thereafter.

Paragraph 5 of the Senior Costs Judge’s judgment confirms that the claim was issued 24 June 2013 and therefore the bill of costs should have been so apportioned.