The recent case of GBM Minerals Engineering Consultants v GB Minerals Holdings  EWHC 3091 (TCC) has highlighted the importance of maintaining a sense of perspective in litigation proceedings, in order to avoid being penalised in costs.
In a case before the High Court, each party had sought permission to amend its pleadings. Each set of amendments was opposed by the other side, for the sole reason of hoping to gain an “opportunistic advantage” over its opponent. The amendments were subsequently allowed by the court, and it was held that the neither party had had good reason for opposing the other side’s amendments. If the amendments had been unopposed, the hearing would have been much shorter and cheaper. Further, both parties had previously been directed to agree costs, but subsequently decided to “fight bitterly over every possible inch of ground”.
In a case described by the judge as “the very antithesis of cost-effective and efficient litigation”, the court ordered each party to bear its own costs, as a result of their unreasonable behaviour. The essence of the judgment was that if parties insist on pursuing “litigation of attrition”, it may well be that the court decides not to award costs to either party.
The case serves as a reminder both to clients and their solicitors always to bear in mind the bigger picture when considering whether to obstruct the efforts of their opponents.
If you would like further information, please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) please contact a member of our Dispute Resolution team.