Claims proceeding in the Technology & Construction Court (TCC) with their first case management conference occurring after 1 October 2011 will be subject to the same costs management pilot scheme that has been running in the Birmingham TCC since 2009.
The intention of the scheme was a real-world test to see whether judges could actively control costs while the case progressed, to ensure that costs incurred by the parties are proportionate to the issues in the case.
The results from Birmingham were encouraging and more feedback is now being sought. The extended pilot will run until 30 September 2012. The key requirement is that the parties are to file and exchange a detailed costs budget forecast for the entire proceedings early in the process, which is to be broken down into key stages.
Judges and parties are able to comment on the budgets provided, although budgets can be amended as the case progresses. The exercise will focus parties' minds on the likely cost of the litigation in prospect and highlight any areas where a party might anticipate excessive cost being incurred. Reference will also be made to the estimate when costs are awarded and it will be difficult for a party to claim costs for a stage that is no longer in the region of the costs in their budget.
If this extended pilot is successful, the costs management process is likely to be rolled out across all courts and become part of the civil litigation landscape.