Court of Appeal Clarifies Recoverability of Legal Costs for Rehabilitation Meetings in Hadley v Przybylo

Citation: [2024] EWCA Civ 250
Judgment on


In the case of Thomas Hadley v Mateusz Przybylo, the Court of Appeal (Civil Division) rendered a judgment that clarifies the principles related to the recoverability of legal costs incurred in personal injury litigation, particularly in respect to attendance at rehabilitation case management meetings. This case emphasizes the application of the criteria from In re Gibson’s Settlement Trusts in determining the recoverability of costs and underscores the judiciary’s reluctance to issue guidelines that could potentially limit the discretion of costs judges.

Key Facts

The plaintiff, Tom Hadley, suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of a road traffic accident caused by the defendant, Mateusz Przybylo. The claimant’s legal team attended rehabilitation case management meetings as part of the management of the claimant’s rehabilitation needs and created a Schedule of Loss. During cost budgeting, Master McCloud disallowed future costs amounting to approximately £52,000 for the solicitor’s attendance at these meetings, concluding that such costs were not “incurred in the progression of litigation”. The defendant argued that the Master had not decided on a point of principle, but a discretionary case management decision subject to reasonableness and proportionality. However, the Court of Appeal determined that a point of principle had indeed been decided by the Master.

The Court of Appeal systematically addressed multiple legal principles in this case:

  1. Recoverability of Costs: Under s.51(1) of the Senior Court Act 1981, costs “of and incidental to” proceedings are broadly recoverable. The Court referred to the criteria from In re Gibson’s Settlement Trusts, considering whether costs proved to be of use and service in the action, were relevant to an issue, and were attributable to the defendant’s conduct.

  2. Involvement in Rehabilitation Meetings: Guides like the Serious Injury Guide and the Rehabilitation Code suggest that a solicitor’s involvement in rehabilitation meetings is envisaged as part of the litigation process, and can thus be a recoverable cost, subject to the circumstances of each case, as argued in Roach v Home Office.

  3. No Guidelines: Echoing Roach, the Court was averse to setting out guidelines for recoverability of pre-action costs, emphasizing the discretion of costs judges and the need to consider each case on its own facts.

  4. Assessment of Reasonableness and Proportionality: Recovery of costs, even if in principle acceptable, is still subject to detailed assessment, where challenges to the reasonableness and proportionality of the costs can be made.

  5. The Master’s Approach: Although the Master perceived herself to be ruling on a point of principle regarding the recoverability of costs related to solicitors’ attendance at meetings, the Court of Appeal clarified the Master’s shorthand of “progressive” costs, affirming the broader criteria from In re Gibson’s Settlement Trusts should apply.


The Court of Appeal concluded that the Master had erred in establishing a principle that costs for attendance at rehabilitation case management meetings are not recoverable. Instead, the Court affirmed such costs are recoverable in principle, but their extent and recoverability are subject to reasonableness and proportionality, to be determined by a costs judge on a case by case basis. The Court allowed the appeal but pointed out that the reasonableness or proportionality of the costs claimed, which appear high, will have to be scrutinized in the detailed assessment.


The Court of Appeal’s decision in Hadley v Przybylo underscores the inherent complexity in adjudicating the recoverability of legal costs, particularly in personal injury cases involving rehabilitation. The Court affirms the principle that costs for legal attendance at rehabilitation meetings are generally recoverable, whilst reinforcing the discretion of costs judges to assess the reasonableness and proportionality of such costs upon detailed assessment. This judgment articulates no blanket rules on cost recoverability, stressing the importance of analyzing each case on its own unique facts and circumstances.