It is bewildering when it appears that what should be a fundamental and straightforward understanding of law and practice nevertheless generates arguments before the court, with a consequent expenditure of substantial time and resources.

One of these fundamental elements is for a lawyer to know not only what they can charge but also what to advise clients about the extent of their entitlement to charge and, where costs are recoverable from another party, the extent to which this could happen.

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REUTERS | David Bebber

“See you in court” was an oft-used expression prior to the implementation of the Woolf Reforms which involved the replacement of the Rules of the Supreme Court by the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) with effect from 26 April 1999. With the introduction of the CPR, the intention was that there would be no more “firing off a writ and seeing what happens”. On the contrary, prospective litigants were to make every effort to settle their differences via pre-action protocols with the intention of avoiding court altogether.

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In Lomax v Lomax, the Court of Appeal had to decide the effect of CPR 3.1(2)(m), which refers to the court’s powers as including “…hearing an Early Neutral Evaluation…”.

Rule 3.1 contains the court’s “general powers of management” and sets out a “list of powers” which are in addition to any other powers the court may have.

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REUTERS | Edgar Su

On 7 August 2019, in Singapore, I had the pleasure of watching the signing ceremony of the UNCITRAL Convention on the Settlement of Disputes Resulting from Mediation, otherwise to be known as “the Singapore Convention”. The Convention, approved by UNCITRAL in June 2018, has been signed by 46 countries, the highest number of “first day” signatories ever for a UNCITRAL Convention. They are: Continue reading

REUTERS | Mohamad Torokman

It is not often that litigation funding makes the national, let alone international news, but the recent allegations made by Muddy Waters in respect of Burford Capital’s accounting practices have even captured the interest of many mainstream media outlets. Whether the accusations stem from a lack of understanding about the risks involved in this incredibly niche market, or whether they have substance, is for investment analysts and the investment community to debate. But we can be sure that headlines such as these will always attract scrutiny by those looking for reasons to denounce litigation funding. Such detractors will link any negative news about the industry to the need for regulation and greater oversight. Continue reading

REUTERS | Louafi Larbi


The underlying dispute in Woodward and another v Phoenix Healthcare Distribution Ltd concerned the alleged mis-sale of a drug by the respondent whilst still under patent to a company which claimed that, as a result of the respondent’s breach of contract or misrepresentations, it suffered financial loss in excess of £5 million and which forced it to enter administration. Continue reading

REUTERS | Jonathan Bachman

Assuming that from now on you will always have to budget your costs? Maybe, but not necessarily…


Generally speaking, we lawyers dislike procedural change. While we may well understand that a particular change is necessary and we will certainly recognise that we need to adapt to it when it comes, such changes nonetheless tend to make us feel ignorant and highly uncomfortable. We have to treat any new procedural regime as a known unknown, which presents pitfalls for the unwary, at least until we become familiar with it. And in the meantime, a culture of half-knowledge develops, an uncertain and dangerous combination of a little learning, anecdote, and false assumptions. This very often leads to negative over-simplification. Continue reading

REUTERS | Mike Blake

It has been some time since the electronic bill of costs has been compulsory and those that have been prepared this way are beginning to surface at court. Although I have not personally had the pleasure of testing one yet, I did have an interesting opening point in Oxford County Court recently and I have heard many stories from costs lawyers, costs counsel and the judiciary. Continue reading

REUTERS | Hannah McKay

The word “inquest” carries with its overtones of sadness. Before you can have an inquest, there must be a death, so the work of the coroner in investigating what has caused it will inevitably bring tears to the eyes of relatives and to those who have survived or witnessed terrible events in which others have died. Prominent and very much in the public eye at the moment has been the London Bridge inquest. It will be recalled that this inquest into the eight deaths following the terrorist attack close to London Bridge on 3 June 2017 lasted seven weeks and resulted in findings of unlawful killing by the Chief Coroner on 29 January 2019. Continue reading