Court to give clarity on Mitchell?

12 June 2014

In order to try and provide much needed clarity on the effects of the Mitchell case on case management, Lord Dyson, the Master of the Rolls, is set to hear three appeals over two days on 16 and 17 June in respect of:

  • Utilise TDS Limited v Davies

  • Decadent Vapours Ltd v Bevan & Ors

  • Denton & Ors v TH White Ltd & Anr

All three cases relate to arguments influenced by Mitchell (in which Lord Dyson refused relief from sanctions for the late filing of a costs budget following the introduction of the new case management rules under the Jackson reforms in 2013).

Although the Mitchell decision (which prompted numerous protective applications being made before the Courts so as to avoid the potential for seemingly draconian outcomes) was thought to be the beginning of a tough new regime on case management, there have been some less draconian decisions handed down recently by the judiciary. It is, therefore, hoped that the Court will give further guidance to ensure that parties, and the Courts, understand the application and limits of the Mitchell principles. It is worth noting that the Courts have already confirmed that parties are able to agree extensions of up to 28 days to directions made by the Court (provided that such variations do not impact a hearing or trial date), as confirmed by the recent amendments to CPR 3.8.

However, and despite this renewed flexibility, it would appear unlikely that the Courts will depart too far from the underlying principles upheld in Mitchell – and it will be a brave solicitor who leaves it to the Court to decide whether time-wasting and non-compliance with the Court timetable will be tolerated.

RPC will provide a further update on the effects of these judgments once they have been handed down.

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