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'This case is an example of something which the court is seeing with increasing frequency. Claims are made for large sums. Emergency orders are obtained, without notice to the other side, which freeze assets worldwide up to the value of the sums claimed. From then on there is a series of interlocutory applications. They are heavier than they should be. Not weeks, but months, are spent assembling material to be put in evidence. Correspondence is exhibited. In some cases it includes something which correspondence should never include, namely the trading of insults between the solicitors for the parties. There has been little, if any, attempt to agree facts or issues. Time estimates for pre-reading are given which underestimate the time needed to read the key evidence and gain a grasp of what the real issues may be. The time needed is far more than it ought to be, largely because no expense has been spared in taking every point.'
The court was clear that such an approach represents bad practice and proposed several (non-exhaustive) 'universal guiding principles' to be observed:
In the heat of big litigation, it can be difficult to act according to the guidelines above. Walker J's warning should be heeded by practitioners, particularly as failure to do so may result in costs consequences for the offending parties where, for example, the court decides that such conduct resulted in disproportionate costs being incurred.
For more information on proportionality in light of the Jackson Reforms, LexisPSL Dispute Resolution subscribers can see: Jackson reforms one year on—proportionality. Click here for a free trial.
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