CPR 1: The Overriding Objective in Litigation



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What is CPR 1?

CPR 1 refers to Part 1 of the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) in England and Wales. The CPR is a set of rules and procedures that govern civil litigation in the courts of England and Wales.

CPR 1 sets out the “overriding objective” of the rules. This objective is to enable the court to deal with cases justly and at proportionate cost. This text outlines the general provisions that apply to the interpretation and application of the rules. Additionally, it outlines the powers of the court to make orders and directions.

CPR 1 is a foundational part of the Civil Procedure Rules. It is important in setting out the principles and framework for civil litigation. “It is used by solicitors, judges, and litigants” to ensure that civil proceedings are conducted efficiently and fairly. This helps the courts to deliver justice in a timely and cost-effective manner.


CPR 1.1(2) : Proportionate Costs

“CPR 1.1(2)” reflects a principle that civil litigation should be conducted in a way that is proportionate, efficient, and cost-effective. At the same time, it should ensure that justice is done in each case. This means that the parties to the litigation, as well as the court, should ensure that the costs of the proceedings are proportionate to the nature, complexity, and value of the claim or issue in dispute.

In practice, this means that the parties should aim to keep their costs reasonable and proportionate. They should take into account the level of costs at stake, the complexity of the legal and factual issues, and the importance of the case to the parties involved. The court, in turn, should use its powers to manage the proceedings and control costs. They may do this by imposing sanctions for non-compliance, and encouraging settlement and alternative dispute resolution where appropriate.

CPR 1.1(2) also emphasises the importance of dealing with cases justly, which means that the parties should aim to resolve disputes in a fair and efficient manner, without causing unnecessary delay or expense. This includes complying with court orders and directions, disclosing relevant documents and information, and being honest and transparent in their dealings with the court and each other.


Proportionality in Detailed Assessment

Whilst CPR 1.1(2) is a general principle that applies to all aspects of the litigation process CPR 44 is a more specific provision that deals with the assessment and recovery of costs in civil litigation.

CPR 44.3(5) specifically deals with the court’s power to control the costs of the proceedings. It provides that the court may make an order specifying the maximum amount of costs that a party may recover from another party, even if the party is successful in the proceedings.

CPR 44.3(5) states the following:

“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.”

How can ARC Costs assist?

The Overriding Objective is essential to all aspects of litigation, and due to the inclusion of proportionality of cost-effectiveness, this has a significant impact upon costs.  On a typical standard basis assessment, costs must be proportionate from the outset, which will likely lead to a line by line analysis of any Bill of Costs under West v Stockport NHS Foundation Trust & Demouilpied v Stockport NHS Foundation Trust [2019] EWCA Civ 1220.  It is therefore crucial that you obtain the input of a legal costs expert as soon as the issue of costs arises, to ensure that the maximum recovery can be achieved on the successful outcome of any litigation.  This starts with the retainer and effective Costs Budgeting, all the way through to preparing the Bill of Costs and detailed assessment.

Our team of costs lawyers and costs draftsmen understand the importance of proportionality under CPR 1 and CPR 44. We assist both Paying and Receiving parties as independent experts in resolving costs disputes, and are adept at preparing Costs Budgets and Bills of Costs for receiving parties.

We also provide  legal costs negotiations services and prepare Points of Reply. For paying parties, we are adept at preparing Points of Dispute, and ensuring that a proportionate level of costs is recovered.

Proportionality is a subjective issue, and it is therefore important you have the right legal costs representative on your side during detailed assessment to ensure you make the most persuasive submissions on the issue.  Should you require any assistance or free initial advice, please call us on 01204 397302, or email one of our costs experts direct on info@arccosts.co.uk.


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