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Wigg & Co - estimates of costs and relevance to assessment

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See Leigh v Michelin Tyre PLC (2003) EW CA Civ 1766 the Court gave important guidelines on the relevance of estimates to detailed assessment. If there is a substantial difference between the estimated costs and the costs claimed that calls for an explanation. In the absence of a satisfactory explanation the Court may conclude that the difference itself is evidence in which it can conclude the costs claimed are unreasonable.

Second, the Court may take the estimate costs into account if the other party shows that it relied on the estimate in a certain way, for example where a paying party relied on the relatively low estimate not to make an offer of settlement but carried on with the litigation on the basis that his potential liability to the costs was likely to be of the order indicated in the estimate.

Third, the Court may take the estimate into account in cases where it decides that it will probably have given different case management directions if a realistic estimate had been given. It might have trimmed the number of experts for example or to reduce the complexity of the litigation but it would not be correct use of the power conferred by Practice Direction paragraph 6.6 to hold a party to his estimate simply in order to penalise him for providing an inadequate estimate. There is no justification for interpreting the provisions in the CPR as equating costs estimate with costs budgets or caps.

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