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HHJ Mark Gosnell (DCJ) speaks to members of the North Eastern Circuit about Jackson

This evening, His Honour Judge Mark Gosnell, the Designated Civil Judge for Leeds and Bradford, addressed barristers of the North Eastern Circuit about Jackson and post-Mitchell decisions, culminating in the recent case of Denton.

It was a clear and detailed summary of the recent case law together with some very useful “pointers” as to the approach of the Courts to relief from sanctions applications in the future.

His Honour said that longer CCMCs (as opposed to the CMCs of the past) are leading to delays in court, although Leeds is on top of its case load. 

There is an inconsistency of approach between courts. For example, in Sheffield separate directions and costs hearing are taking place and in London some judges are fixing an overall figure for the budget, rather than breaking it down.

Surprisingly, even in non-personal injury matters, parties are failing to agree costs budgets. This can be tactically naive, as the judge may slash both parties’ budgets.

As to Denton, HHJ Gosnell said that in his view stage 1 – “the seriousness or significance of the breach” is a “significant” change and he thinks that this is likely to make an important difference in practice. Also, stage 3 – “all the circumstances of the case” but giving “particular” weight to CPR 3.9(1)(a) and (b) rather than “paramount” weight under Mitchell will make “a hell of a difference” in practice.

As to the future, HHJ Gosnell said that “seriousness and significance” ie. stage 1 will be the new battleground. There is also an emphasis on the 3rd stage ie. whether the breach has prevented the court or the parties from conducting litigation effectively.

Finally, as to satellite litigation and non-co-operation a strong message has been sent by the Court of Appeal that this will not be tolerated – “ignore it at your peril“.