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England and Wales High Court (Technology and Construction Court) Decisions
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> England and Wales High Court (Technology and Construction Court) Decisions >> Wain v Gloucestershire County Council & Ors  EWHC 1274 (TCC) (02 April 2014)
Cite as:  4 Costs LO 585,  EWHC 1274 (TCC)
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QUEEN'S BENCH DIVISION
BIRMINGHAM DISTRICT REGISTRY
TECHNOLOGY & CONSTRUCTION COURT
33 Bull Street
B e f o r e :
Sitting as a High court Judge
|GLOS CC (1)|
|GLOS HIGHWAYS (3)|
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Counsel for the First Defendant: MR HORNE
Counsel for the Fourth Defendant: MR BROWN
The Second and Third Defendants did not attend and were not represented
Crown Copyright ©
i) The delay was of one day in the context of a time period or frame of seven days.
ii) That seven-day period, namely for filing or serving a costs budget, is usefully to be compared with the three-day period for service of an application notice before its hearing: see CPR rule 23.7(1).
iii) On behalf of the claimant, Mr Woolgar made it entirely plain that the claimants have not suffered any prejudice by reason of the delay of one day. He went on to make the point, which I accept, that while that is the position in this case, it does not necessarily follow that a like position would obtain in another case where there was a similar delay of one day.
iv) Here, the parties are each perfectly able to deal with the topic of costs management at today's hearing, notwithstanding the fact that the fourth defendant served her costs budget with only six clear days rather than seven clear days before the hearing.
v) Unlike the position which obtained in Mitchell, in this case no disruption to the court's timetable has been caused by the delay on the part of the fourth defendant in serving her costs budget. The only additional burden placed upon the court has been the need to take some time during today's hearing to consider the point, and also for me to spend some time both before the commencement of this hearing and during the short adjournment to prepare this ruling.
vi) I refer to and rely on what the Court of Appeal stated in paragraph 40 of its judgment in Mitchell where, having stated that it might be useful to provide some guidance as to how the new approach should be applied in practice, the Master of the Rolls held:
"It will usually be appropriate to start by considering the nature of the non-compliance with the relevant rule, practice direction or court order. If this can properly be regarded as trivial the court will usually grant relief provided that an application is made promptly. The principle de minimis non curat lex, namely that the law is not concerned with trivial things, applies here as it applies in most areas of the law. Thus, the court will usually grant relief if there has been no more than an insignificant failure to comply with an order: for example, where there has been a failure of form rather than substance; or where the party has narrowly missed the deadline imposed by the order, but has otherwise fully complied with its terms".
In my judgment, this is an instance where the relevant party, here the fourth defendant, has narrowly missed the requirement to file and serve a costs budget seven clear days before the hearing of this case management conference and costs management hearing.
vii) I note also in that paragraph the reference by the Master of the Rolls to a situation where there has been no more than an insignificant failure. The introduction of and reference to the concept of significance in my judgment resonates with the point made above, namely the relevance of the interrelation between the breach, ie the non-compliance, and its consequences.