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Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 792

  • United Kingdom
  • Costs Unit
  • Litigation and dispute management


The Court of Appeal has today handed down its long awaited judgment in the case of Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 792, which considered the relationship between the costs budgeting regime in litigation matters, and the ultimate assessment of those costs by the court.

In April 2013, the Jackson Reforms came into force which included as one of its major planks, the requirement to prepare costs budgets on the majority of cases (currently all multi track cases up to £10 million). Since then, courts and practitioners have wrestled with the relationship between budgets, and the traditional tail end assessment of costs.

When submitting a budget to the court for approval, such budget will be split into costs incurred and budgeted costs to be incurred. The court will consider the latter but not the former.  However, the overall budget set takes account of both.  The Court of Appeal were forced to consider the position whereby a budget was set but without the court having considered in any detail, if at all, the costs incurred pre budget.

In short, the Court of Appeal held: 

1.  pre-budget costs are open for reduction on detailed assessment

2.  budgeted costs are not as long as the same are within budget

3.  save the court can consider proportionality of the entire costs claim and this includes budgeted as well as pre budget costs 


The decision brings clarity to clients and practitioners alike as to both the likely recovery if successful, but also the likely exposure if not.

The Court of Appeal have laid down a clear message as to the importance of getting the budget right.  Still further, the importance of costs management hearings. 

Eversheds Sutherland have dedicated and specialist costs team who are experts in litigation budgeting and monitoring. If you would like to discuss this judgment or any aspects of costs recovery, litigation budgeting or financing, please contact a member of the costs team.