A less tolerant handmaid — Mitchell v Newsgroup judgment

The Court of Appeal has handed down its decision in Mitchell v News Group, resolving recent uncertainty about the implementation of Jackson reforms — at least for the time being.

Mr Mitchell sued the defendant newspaper, The Sun, for libel following the ‘plebgate’ affair. On 5 June 2013 both parties were ordered to serve costs budgets seven days before a case management hearing listed for 18 June. Mr Mitchell’s solicitors received the order on 6 June so they had until 11 June — four working days — to complete, file and serve their costs budget.

They failed to do so and only served it the day before the hearing on 17 June after prompting by the master, Master McCloud. At the hearing, the master limited Mr Mitchell’s solicitors’ future costs of the claim to their court fees. They applied for relief from sanctions under CPR 3.9 at a further hearing on 25 July. The master adjourned a hearing in an asbestos-related claim to hear it. She refused relief because the post-Jackson rules implemented a ‘tougher, more robust approach to rule compliance’…

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