This is a situation that is familiar to all of us. You see your opponents bill of costs. The charges are much higher than yours. It must therefore be wrong. This is particularly so for claimants in Personal Injury and Medical Negligence cases where a lot of front ended work is often needed. It is unusual for the Defendants’ bill to as high as, let alone exceed, their own. Surely that alone must be grounds to attack the other side’s bill. Not so, according to the High Court in Monex Europe Ltd v Pothcary [2019] EWHC 2204.

In this commercial case the Claimant’s bill was £44669.00 and the Defendants’ was £85446.00 – nearly double. Clive Sheldon QC rejected the comparison argument proposed by the Claimant –

‘In my judgment, it is not appropriate for the Court simply to compare the two sets of costs and say that the Defendants’ costs were disproportionate because they were greater, or that elements of them were greater, than that of the Claimant. It is necessary to look at the specific items for which costs are claimed.’

The judge did reduce the Defendants’ bill by £11405.00 by analysis of what was claimed but rejected any argument based on comparison.