The new voluntary capped costs pilot referred to in our earlier note was due to become operational on Monday 4 December 2017. Almost a year on from our first update on fixed recoverable costs, as at April 2018 we are still waiting for a commencement date for the pilot to be confirmed. Once the scheme begins operating, claims worth £250,000 or less issued in the London Circuit Commercial Court (i.e. what used to be called the Mercantile Court) and the Circuit Commercial Court, Chancery or Technology and Construction courts in Manchester and Leeds will be able to take advantage of a streamlined court procedure to lower the costs of litigation.
Advantages of using the Capped Costs List (CCL) for straightforward disputes are expected to include:
- Capping the amount of costs that the unsuccessful party must pay the winning litigant (and therefore more certainty as to the costs of the litigation);
- Speeding up the resolution of claims through shorter timescales between stages of litigation and limited hearing times (one hour for a case management conference and time limited cross examination at trial);
- There is a general rule that no disclosure will be ordered;
- Parties are limited to two witnesses each;
- Expert evidence is not permitted;
- Generally, all applications will be dealt with without a hearing.
It is understood, based on the draft rules, that a claimant wishing to use the new CCL will need to notify the defendant of its intention to issue in the CCL in pre-action correspondence giving the defendant 14 days to respond. The claimant will still be able to issue in the CCL even if the defendant objects to this but the defendant will have the opportunity to have the case taken out of the CCL at a later stage. It is also open to a defendant to suggest that the parties use the CCL.
For the right cases, the new list could be a useful addition to the other cost saving and streamlining schemes which the court has established over recent months and years. We await the introduction of the pilot and will publish a further update once the details of this have been confirmed.