Senior Costs Judge Hurst sitting as a Recorder
The Issues: The parties agreed the instruction of Mobile Doctors. Evidence showed that Mobile Doctors had charged a £25 fee for their work in obtaining GP notes and £25 for obtaining hospital notes. The medical expert’s charge had been £275 to which Mobile Doctors had also added their fee of £160.
Held: (reversing the previous decision of Master Seager-Berry of 14 th December 2005) that under CPR 45.10, (fixed costs) the Court could allow a claim for a disbursement which included “the cost of obtaining a medical report” and that “obtaining” included the work of procuring the report rather than simply the cost of the report itself. The intention of the predictable costs regime was to provide certainty, and disputes about the breakdown of medical agency fees would cause additional cost and delay. If the previous decision were upheld, then in cases where damages were on the borderline of the predictable costs regime, it would not be known at the time of instruction how the medical agency fee would be treated, which was undesirable. Accordingly medical agency invoices which included a charge for the work which they carried out, in addition to the cost of the report itself, were recoverable.
The general tests of reasonableness and proportionality would continue to be applied in the usual way. A pure administration fee however (ie a sum in the nature of a booking in fee, which was unrelated to the work carried out by the medical agency) would never be allowed, but the Court was not aware of any medical agencies making such a charge.