David Cooper considers when parties may depart from the budget at detailed assessment in light of Harrison

On 21 June 2017, the Court of Appeal demonstrated the central importance of budgeting in Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 792, by deciding that parties need a ‘good reason’ to depart from the budget at detailed assessment.

The case was a clinical negligence claim at all stages of which damages were expressly limited in value to £50,000. Liability was disputed. At the costs management hearing, the claimant put forward a budget of £197,000, made up of incurred costs of £108,000 – on which the judge made no comment – and future costs of £89,000. Success fees and the after...

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