Costs: Sanctions for Delaying Detailed Assessment Proceedings
Detailed Assessment is the process where parties costs are assessed, normally by a Cost officer at the conclusion of proceedings unless otherwise ordered by the Court. The Cost officer will determine the costs payable by the paying party to the receiving party. The Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) provides a breakdown of the time limits and procedures for commencing Detailed Assessment.
CPR Time Limits
In accordance with CPR 47.7 Detailed Assessment is to be commenced within 3 months of any Judgment, direction, orders, discontinuance under Part 38 or an acceptance of a part 36 offer. Furthermore, once the Detailed Assessment has been commenced and the receiving party receives the points of dispute, the receiving party must request for a Detailed Assessment hearing within a 3 month period (CPR 47.14(1)).
Sanctions for not complying with Time Limits
The general rule is if the receiving party does not comply the above deadlines the Court will only disallow part or all of the interest payable, CPR 47.8(3) and 47.14(4). However, in more serious circumstances, the Court has the powers to make an order for the disallowance of part or all of the receiving party’s cost pursuant to CPR 47.8(2) and CPR 47.14(3).
For the latter sanction, the Court may make such an order if the paying party makes an application under CPR 47.8(1) or 47.14(3) and (4) to the Court requesting the receiving party to commence Detailed Assessment or request for a hearing within a set time period. If, then the receiving party fail to comply with the deadlines following the paying party’s application, then they are subject to disallowance of part or all of their costs.
The Court will also take into consideration other factors when determining the sanctions to impose on the receiving party, namely their conduct and reasons for their delay in commencing Detailed Assessment or requesting a Detailed Assessment hearing. The Court will look at all the facts of each individual case before making such determination.
The Court in most instances will only apply a disallowance of interest if the receiving party have failed to comply with the deadlines, however, if the paying party takes advantage of the mechanism in 47.8(1) or 47.14(3) and (4), the Court may allow for disallowance of costs.
Therefore, it is imperative that the receiving party commences proceedings within the above time limit as they may face sanctions, and similarly if there is a delay, the paying party is strongly encouraged to make the relevant application. Failing to make an application the Court will be minded to disallow only interest, unless there are exceptional circumstances for the Court to impose further sanctions.
– Gurpreet Dhillon