Quick out of the blocks? Christie defendant disqualified for budget false start

In the case of Burt v Linford Christie, District Judge Lumb made the decision to not accept the cost budget of the Defendant, as it was filed after the deadline had passed.

Facts/Circumstances

Linford Christie, a former Olympic sprinting champion, admitted liability in the road traffic accident, which involved a collision with a taxi in 2010. The incident led to a claim from Mr Michael Burt, a passenger in the taxi.

During the case, the Defendant’s legal team had to file their budget by Friday 16th January 2014, but in fact served it a day later by fax machine. The budget was not received in Court until Monday 20th January, the next working day.

Law- Trivial Breach- Mitchell v News Group Newspapers [2013] EWCA Civ 1537

The Court of Appeal in Mitchell took a firm, robust stance on non-compliance. In the guidance set out in the judgment of Lord Dyson, it was held that relief from sanctions should only be granted if the breach of rules was “trivial”. In defining what would constitute a trivial breach for non-compliance he stated:

“In circumstances where there has been no more than an insignificant failure to comply with an order; for example, where there has been a failure of form rather than substance; or where the party has narrowly missed the deadline imposed by the order, but has otherwise fully complied with its terms the Court will usually grant relief.”- Paragraph 40

Judges’ Comments in Burt v Linford Christie

District Judge Lumb disagreed with the Defendant’s submission that by filing their costs budget one or two days late, they had fallen “within the category of a trivial breach”.

The Defendants failure to interpret the Court rules (CPR 2.8) in relation to time/clear days “clearly did not amount to a good reason”. Hence, despite filing the budget just a day late, District Judge Lumb was unwilling to allow the Defendant’s budget and instead only allowed a budget comprising of the applicable court fees.

Summary

The case of Burt v Linford further highlights the tough approach being adopted by the Courts in light of the Mitchell/Post Jackson era. Budgets should be filed 7 days prior to the Case Management Conference or with the Directions Questionnaire. Evidently it is apparent, that if the budget is filed any later without good reason the Courts will be unwilling to provide relief unless there is good reason.

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