Simon Mills in important case concerning the correct approach to awarding interim costs where the costs have exceeded the costs budget

2nd December 2015

In a short but important judgment on costs in Maven Capital Partners & Capital for Enterprise Fund v Bibby Financial Services Ltd [2015] EWHC 2593 (Ch), [2015] All ER (D) 117 (Nov), HHJ Pelling QC held that:

  • the court does not have jurisdiction to amend an approved costs budget after trial;
  • the costs judge can depart from a budget only when “…there is good reason to do so.” (CPR r.3.18);
  • unless the parties expressly or impliedly agree, the trial judge should not give an indication that it would have been willing to order an increase in the defendant’s budget had such an application been made;
  • the trial judge should not order an interim payment on account of costs on the basis that such a departure will be authorised.


At a previous hearing, the Judge had already made an order that the claimants should pay 70% of the defendants’ costs. Having refused to give an indication that he would have been willing to depart from the costs budget, the Judge directed that the claimants should pay 80% of 70% of the defendants’ budget. This is a good example of how the courts are awarding a higher percentage of costs on account, as they have already been approved by the court in the budgeting process.