Hobbs v Guy’s And St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust [2015] EWHC B20 (Costs) (02 November 2015) 

“The bill in this case relates to a clinical negligence claim which ended pre-issue on the acceptance of the Defendant’s offer to settle the claim by paying £3500 plus costs. The bill claimed £32,329.12 and proceeded by way of provisional assessment at which I reduced it on grounds of reasonableness by about two thirds. Most of that reduction related to the hourly rate claimed and the costs of a conference with counsel. I then made a further reduction on grounds of proportionality. The total allowed provisionally was £9879.34 including VAT plus the costs of provisional assessment (£1694.70 including VAT).” (paragraph 1)

The court applied principles: proportionality prevails over reasonableness, necessity does not render costs proportionate.

Rule 44.3(2) states: “Where the amount of costs is to be assessed on the standard basis … Costs which are disproportionate in amount may be disallowed or reduced even if they were reasonably or necessarily incurred …”.

Rule 44.3(5) states:

“Costs incurred are proportionate if they bear a reasonable relationship to—

(a) the sums in issue in the proceedings;

(b) the value of any non-monetary relief in issue in the proceedings;

(c) the complexity of the litigation;

(d) any additional work generated by the conduct of the paying party; and

(e) any wider factors involved in the proceedings, such as reputation or public importance.”

The court observed: “…I did not think it right to disallow the expenditure on medical records or expert reports. Even in modest value clinical negligence claims it is necessary to incur costs on these items. I did not allow these items of costs on grounds of necessity since that is trumped by proportionality. I allowed them having regard to the fact that clinical negligence claims have more complexity and involve more work than do other claims of similar value.” (paragraph 35)