Costs and proportionality
Costs and proportionality

The following Dispute Resolution guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Costs and proportionality
  • Rationale for the proportionality provisions
  • When to consider proportionality
  • The CPR provisions
  • Court's approach to reasonableness and proportionality
  • Costs relationship to amount of money involved
  • Costs relationship to importance of the case
  • Costs relationship to complexity of the issues
  • Costs relationship to financial position of each party
  • Costs relationship to litigation being conducted expeditiously and fairly
  • more

Rationale for the proportionality provisions

The key rationale for the changes was set out in the Jackson Final Report as being:

'Access to justice is only practicable if the costs of litigation are proportionate.'

and further

'If parties wish to pursue claims or defences at disproportionate cost, they must do so, at least in part, at their own expense.'

The introduction of proportionality was addressed by Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls, see Practice Note: Costs implementation lectures—Fifteenth lecture [Archived]. While it was considered that it was likely to be a key consideration in many different types of applications before the court, prior its implementation many voiced concern as to how little guidance had been provided as to how to the issue of proportionality would be applied in practice. Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Master of the Rolls, made it clear that the court would deal with each case on its own facts and merits.

Note: Jackson LJ delivered speeches in 2016 in relation to fixed costs and whether the need for proportionate costs could lead to a fixed costs regime. For information, see News Analysis: Will the need for proportionate costs lead to a fixed costs regime?

When to consider proportionality

Whether costs being incurred are proportional should be a key consideration for practitioners. Consideration needs to be given consistently