Arjomandkhah v Nasrouallahi  EWHC B11 (Costs)
In this matter before Master Leonard at the SCCO, the Court rejected the Claimant’s argument that the Defendant’s costs, which were approximately one-third of the Claimant’s costs budget) were disproportionate.
The case before the SCCO was an appeal following a Detailed Assessment by a Costs Officer of the Defendant’s costs at £23,253.
The Claimant’s main focus was to challenge the decision of the Costs Master based upon an argument that the costs were disproportionate to the potential award of damages. It was however held to be inappropriate to assess the proportionality of costs only by reference to the financial value when money is not central to the claim:-
“The Claimant’s submissions invite me, contrary to the clear provisions of the Civil Procedure Rules, to judge proportionality only by reference to a notional financial value derived from the pleaded claim, ignoring the wider criteria expressly set out in the rules”.
Master Leonard went on to clarify:-
“I agree with the Defendant that it is inappropriate to judge proportionality only by reference to a notional financial value when money is not the point of the claim. If I were to do so, however, it would have to be measured by reference to all of the criteria set out at CPR 44.4(1) and CPR 44.3(5). It would therefore have to take into account the probable permanent effect of a successful claim upon the defendant which, as I have observed, could have been devastating.”
The decision of the Costs Master was therefore upheld.
This is a welcome decision, the argument that it is inappropriate to apply the test of proportionality only with reference to the award for damages is an argument that MRN have made on numerous occasions on a case by case basis. This recent authority to reinforce the argument is long overdue.