Master James, sitting in the Senior Courts Costs Office, has considered a number of preliminary issues in connection with the detailed assessment of the claimants’ costs in group litigation under the pre-April 2013 costs regime. The case involved 599 claimants who had stayed at a sub-standard holiday resort, many of whom had contracted gastrointestinal illnesses, and whose claims had settled for £1.7 million.

Guidance on the assessment of costs in group litigation claims will be welcomed. Considering the provisions of CPR 44, the master found that some of the claimants should have pursued their claims via industry-specific mediation. Despite overlapping issues and work, there had not been significant savings made, as would be expected, and he found that the claimants had not kept their costs to a reasonable and proportionate level. The success fees claimed did not represent a realistic reflection of risk and were reduced, and the master refused to grant an interim costs certificate in the sum of £881,000.

Although this judgment does not amount to any new law and was considered under the pre-April 2013 regime, it serves as a useful warning of some of the factors which the court may take into account in assessing costs in group litigation.