Costs comparison irrelevant.

In Monex Europe Ltd v Pothecary & Anor, the deputy High Court judge was required to summarily assess the Defendant’s costs following his refusal of the Claimant’s application for an injunction.

In its submissions, the Claimant took what was described as the ‘comparison approach’ by arguing that the Defendants’ costs (£85,446.00) were unreasonably high compared to its own costs (£44,669.00).

The Claimant had also argued that it bore the burden of the application, having filed twice as many witness statements and argued that the number of hours claimed by the Defendant’s solicitors were high. It also argued that the Defendant’s costs lawyer’s hourly rate should be reduced to £120 per hour from £250 ph.

However, the deputy judge said the court would assess the Defendant’s costs by reference to their relationship to the work done and not by comparing one side’s costs with the other’s: “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.”

In all the circumstances, the deputy judge reduced the Defendant’s costs by £11,405. This included reductions to the time spent on one Defendant’s statement and the time spent by a partner attending on the parties, and further reductions to address duplication.

The deputy judge also decided that it was not disproportionate for an experienced costs lawyer to prepare the costs schedule as this had proved helpful in the assessment of the costs.