A voluntary capped costs pilot will run for two years from 14 January 2019 for cases valued at between £100,000 and £250,000 in the London Circuit Commercial Court (formerly the Mercantile Court) and the business and property courts in Manchester and Leeds.

Based on the capped costs regime in the Intellectual Property and Enterprise Court, the scheme was originally approved in principle by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee in May 2017 (see here) and formed part of the recommendations in Lord Justice Jackson's report on fixed recoverable costs published in July 2017 (see here). The government has yet to respond to the key recommendations in that report, which would establish a new intermediate track with fixed costs for claims up to £100,000.

The new capped costs pilot will not be available for cases which require a trial of more than two days, involve allegations of fraud, are likely to require extensive disclosure or reliance upon extensive witness or expert evidence, or involve numerous issues and parties. Cases will be subject to a streamlined procedure and should come to trial within eight months of the case management conference.

Costs will generally be assessed summarily at the end of the case. The practice direction sets out a table of maximum amounts recoverable for each stage of the proceedings, subject to an overall cap of £80,000 (plus VAT, court fees, enforcement costs, wasted costs, and costs awarded in respect of interim applications where a party has behaved unreasonably).

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