The issue of whether a party can recover more than the agreed budgeted amounts for certain phases of its costs budget was considered as a point of principle in Sony Communications International AB v. SSH Communications Security Corporation EWHC 2985 (Pat). Roger Wyand QC, (sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge) reviewed the Court of Appeal decision of Henry v. News Group Newspapers Ltd  EWCA Civ 19. In finding good reason to make some departures from the budget, he relied on relevant factors arising from the Henry case including: the cost budget is a guideline, not a cap; the court will only depart from the budget where there is a good reason to do so; and, in considering whether there are good reasons for departing from a budget, the court had to take into account all the circumstances of the case. Sony argued that it did get "impressively close" to predicting its incurred costs and that it was not seeking to recover more than its total budget figure.
The importance of the costs budget was underlined in Merrix v. Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (unreported, 13 October 2016), in which the High Court applied section II of CPR Part 3."The words are clear. The court will not – the words are mandatory – depart from the budget, absent good reason. On a detailed assessment on a standard basis, the costs judge is bound by the agreed or approved costs budget, unless there is good reason to depart from it." (See paragraph 67 of the judgment.) Carr J had little time for some of the parties' arguments. In particular, she stressed that complaints about "shortcomings and inevitable inaccuracies in the cost budgeting process cannot avail" a party arguing for a variation in the budget. Further, parties cannot point to judges being novices at the budgeting process (compared to solicitors). "With training and experience all civil judges are equal to the task of costs budgeting."
Carr J sets out a useful history of the costs budgeting regime and a review of the CPR, Part 3 regime itself from paragraph 7 of her judgment.