Do as you are told, OR ELSE!

The title of this piece may sound like an echo from school days many years ago, but it is the message being sent out by the Courts when dealing with timetables set in civil cases at the moment.

In 2013, the Jackson Reforms came onto force and the primary target was Civil Court costs. The other effect of these reforms was to strengthen the powers the Judges have to deal with cases if either side does not comply with orders made by the Court. The Court can impose sanctions up to and including the striking out your case if you do not do as the Court instructs. Additionally, if a penalty or sanction is made, it is intended to be difficult to gain relief. This applies to all cases large or small.

The most high profile matter is Mitchell v NGN Ltd which arose from the ‘Plebgate’ incident last year. Mr Mitchell’s lawyers filed their costs budget (another new thing from the reforms) late, and the standard order was that they were only able to recover Court fees. This has been confirmed by the Court of Appeal and is unlikely to change to any significant degree.

The moral of the story is that Breach of the rules is Breach. It is unlikely to be excused and the Courts are expected to be robust on this point. Mr Mitchell will be unable to recover his legal costs if he wins, which are likely to run into hundreds of thousands of pounds.

When we ask you to send us a document or give instructions on a statement in a case we are representing you on, we really mean it because the rest of your claim or defence could depend on it!

You have been warned…

by Neil John from the Wisbech office