If a party to litigation is late in serving their costs budget then the potential consequence is set out in the rules of court (here CPR rule 3.14), namely, they will be treated as having filed a budget comprising only the applicable court fees.
The issue has again come up in the Technology and Construction Court. In the previous case reported here the court showed a healthy common sense in tempering the rigours of the rule,
In Wain v Gloucestershire County Council & Ors  at the first case management conference and costs management hearing the fourth defendant was one day late in filing her costs budget, so that instead of having been served seven clear days before the hearing, it was served six clear days before.
The court concluded that this breach was. having regard to all the circumstances, a trivial breach.
i) The delay was of one day in the context of a time frame of seven days.
ii) The claimants had not suffered any prejudice by reason of the delay of one day. Though it does not necessarily follow that the same position would apply in another case where there was a similar delay of one day.
iii) Here, the parties had been perfectly able to deal with the costs management at that hearing, though the fourth defendant had served her costs budget only six rather than seven clear days before the hearing.
iv) Unlike in the Andrew Mitchell Case, no disruption had been caused to the court by the delay in serving her costs budget.
Indeed, the only additional burden on the court had been the need to take time out to consider the point, and prepare that ruling.
In Mitchell the Court of Appeal said:
“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”.
Applying those principles this was an instance where the fourth defendant, had only narrowly missed the requirement to file and serve a costs budget seven clear days before the hearing of that case management conference and costs management hearing.
The court concluded that the fourth defendant would be entitled to rely upon her costs budget as served late.
This blog has been posted as a matter of general interest. It does not remove the need to get bespoke legal advice in individual cases.