Posts from Association of Costs Lawyers

Costs budgeting: how is it working?

There has been a noticeable rise in the number of unhappy clients challenging their solicitors’ bills, particularly in personal injury cases, at least to judge by various rulings from the County Court right up to the Court of Appeal (Herbert v HH Law).

The importance of understanding basic costs principles

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 … Continue reading The importance of understanding basic costs principles

Testing the electronic bill of costs at court

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 … Continue reading Testing the electronic bill of costs at court

Knight and another v Knight and others: Part 36 offer imposing costs conditions invalid

A Part 36 offer (pre-issue) which imposes a condition as to costs is not a valid offer, HHJ Matthews (sitting as a High Court judge) held in Knight and another v Knight and others.

Front and centre: Allen v Brethertons LLP and the status of costs lawyers

Costs lawyers may generally operate behind the scenes, but a recent case in the Senior Courts Costs Office provides a useful reminder of our professional status and the important role we play in the resolution of costs disputes.

Solicitor/client success fees and Herbert v HH Law Ltd

The ongoing saga surrounding personal injury firms’ tussles with costs recovery specialists has resulted in some important guidance for solicitors on permissible fee arrangements. The implications on the charging structures for the sector could be profound, especially in respect of conditional fee agreements (CFAs) and the charging of success fees.

New Practice Direction 51W: two-year voluntary capped costs list pilot scheme

In November 2016, the then Jackson LJ was commissioned by the Lord Chief Justice and Master of the Rolls to explore the possibility of extending the fixed recoverable costs regime with the aim of promoting transparency in civil litigation and access to justice for litigants. This was not a task undertaken lightly, with Jackson LJ … Continue reading New Practice Direction 51W: two-year voluntary capped costs list pilot scheme

Adding costs of previous unsuccessful claim: Playboy Club London Ltd v Banca Nazionale del Lavora SpA

In Playboy Club London Ltd v Banca Nazionale del Lavora SpA, leave was given to amend particulars of claim to add the adverse costs of a previously unsuccessful related negligence claim involving the same parties.

ACL annual conference 2018 survey results

Solicitors continue to rack up costs in excess of court-approved budgets, but there are signs of improvement, according to the survey of my fellow costs lawyers.

Bad behaviour not good grounds to stay costs order: Raja v Van Hoogstraten and others

The High Court’s decision in Raja v Hoogstraten and others, and in particular the claimant’s application to set aside a previous costs order made in favour of the defendants pursuant to CPR 40.8A, highlights the circumstances and grounds required to set aside an order under CPR 40.8A, yet fails to provide real clarity for the profession.

When to address proportionality

Proportionality may not be the only issue to debate in the costs world right now, but it’s probably the biggest one.

Proportionality: the new political correctness

Proportionality is something that is considered from the pre-action stage, right through to assessment of costs. It has become a term that is familiar to some and feared by many. On 1 April 2013, a new test of proportionality came in to force by virtue of CPR 44.3(2)(a), whereby costs that are disproportionate in amount … Continue reading Proportionality: the new political correctness

Standing up for costs lawyers: Allen v Brethertons LLP

It is now 11 years since the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA) was passed and eight since the regulatory regime it created fully came into being. And still, unfortunately, there are those elsewhere in the legal profession who do not recognise the difference between costs lawyers and costs draftsmen.

Staying a consent order pending professional negligence proceedings: Riordan and others v Moon Beever Solicitors

Earlier this year, the High Court ruled that a Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) master was entitled to stay a consent order relating to detailed assessment because the clients were planning professional negligence proceedings against the solicitors.

Were lawyers ready for the electronic bill of costs?

We are five months into the compulsory electronic bill of costs and so far all is quiet. Obviously it will take time before cases affected by the change hit the courts, but research undertaken by the Association of Costs Lawyers has shown that many solicitors and judges were not ready for the new bill when … Continue reading Were lawyers ready for the electronic bill of costs?

Fixed costs and accepting a Part 36 offer: Hislop v Perde

Fixed costs (and how to avoid them) have been a hot topic in recent months. Earlier this year, in Bratek v Clark-Drain Ltd, the High Court found that it was not possible to contract out of the fixed costs regime attaching to the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) and Employers’ Liability/Product Liability (EL/PL) protocols by providing … Continue reading Fixed costs and accepting a Part 36 offer: Hislop v Perde

Fixed costs versus consent orders: Bratek v Clark-Drain Ltd

Since their introduction in 2013, the pre-action protocols for low-value personal injury claims have been fertile ground for costs jurisprudence, particularly cases involving receiving parties’ attempts to circumvent the fixed costs regime in CPR 45.

Reduction in hourly rates for incurred costs: Jallow v Ministry of Defence

The question of whether a reduction in hourly rates for incurred costs is a good reason to do the same to budgeted costs is a big one at the moment, absent higher court authority. Recently, Master Rowley in the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) had his say, and joined what seems to be the majority … Continue reading Reduction in hourly rates for incurred costs: Jallow v Ministry of Defence

Switching from legal aid to CFA: Surrey v Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust

The issue of funding is often one which causes satellite litigation. Indeed, it may have been one of the driving factors behind the civil justice reforms. When the ideas of Jackson LJ were enshrined into legislation in the form of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO), it was envisaged that … Continue reading Switching from legal aid to CFA: Surrey v Barnet and Chase Farm Hospitals NHS Trust

E-day arrives

The new form electronic bill, coming into force tomorrow (6 April 2018), is “bound to save time and costs” and soon “people will be amazed that we had put up with the old paper-based bill for so long”, Jackson LJ predicted as he reflected on his reforms ahead of his retirement from the bench on … Continue reading E-day arrives

Incurred costs: Tucker v Griffiths and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

In May 2017, Master Rowley handed down judgment in Tucker v Griffiths and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, dealing with various issues arising as preliminary points in a detailed assessment. The case centred on an alleged mis-certification of the claimant’s budget and, flowing from that, also dealt with hourly rates and good reason to depart … Continue reading Incurred costs: Tucker v Griffiths and Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

This judgment will rock you: May v Wavell Group Ltd

Though the article and the decision in May and another v Wavell Group Ltd and another contains nods to Queen (the case involves guitarist Brian May), ultimately it relates to Jackson LJ’s vision of proportionality and the differing interpretations that have followed.

Our survey says: ACL’s findings on costs budgeting

Costs budgeting, as we know it today, has been around for less than four years. It was only last June in Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust that the Court of Appeal provided much needed clarification on the approach to be adopted by costs judges on detailed assessment on departing from approved … Continue reading Our survey says: ACL’s findings on costs budgeting

Harrison v Eversheds: how much should the client pay?

Am I being overcharged? That is the question that many business and private clients are now asking. There is an increasing demand for advice from costs lawyers, solicitors and barristers specialising in costs law, with the aim, in this time of austerity, to challenge solicitors’ claims for costs and hopefully secure a saving. All solicitors … Continue reading Harrison v Eversheds: how much should the client pay?

Budgeting: a good reason to depart?

In the past, perhaps the mention of costs budgeting itself was good reason for many a law practitioner to depart hastily from a conversation. However, this complex issue has been further complicated by the inevitable fall-out of the decision in Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust, where the Court of Appeal determined … Continue reading Budgeting: a good reason to depart?

Harrison and the risks of the inability to stick to costs budgets: ACL survey

The Court of Appeal’s recent ruling in Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust was not so much a gentle nudge to solicitors on the importance of costs budgeting, but a sharp elbow in the ribs.

Set-off and qualified one-way costs shifting (QOCS): what comes first?

You are faced with a claim for personal injuries and you make a Part 36 offer with a view to affording costs protection. It transpires that your Part 36 offer is successful and you look to recover your costs. By way of illustration:

An exchange (rate) of views: compensating for currency differentials

Back in 2009, my client, a multinational law firm, obtained an award for costs in a piece of litigation for the European Central Bank. Needless to say, its client was invoiced in euros, by reference to euro hourly rates, yet the assessment of costs proceeded by reference to figures converted into sterling.

Sarpd Oil International v Addax Energy SA and another: managing the costs of a changing landscape

By the end of 2015, the majority of litigation practitioners had become accustomed to the intricacies of costs management. Whilst the occasional surprise continued to occur before some district judges, after almost three years the majority of kinks in the system had been resolved. However, the status quo was upset in January 2016 by the … Continue reading Sarpd Oil International v Addax Energy SA and another: managing the costs of a changing landscape

More workable bill of costs launched by ACL

A new format for the good old bill of costs is sneaking up on the profession with increasing speed.

Better the devil you know? Statistics from ACL members’ survey: attitudes to costs management

We are more than three years into costs management and it is fair to say that lawyers are still a long way from getting fully to grips with the practice.

Signia Wealth v Marlborough Trust Company: a growing enthusiasm for costs budgeting?

The widely reported chief Chancery master’s decision in Signia Wealth Ltd v Marlborough Trust Company Ltd & another indicates a marked departure in approach by the court from the early days of the Jackson reforms and costs budgeting.

Mediate or not, that is the question

Any advice given to clients should be tempered, as far as possible, with how that advice may impact on them in the future, as well as with how a judge might view that advice in determining the reasonableness of a decision taken on its basis. To my knowledge, nobody has a crystal ball to see into the future, … Continue reading Mediate or not, that is the question

ACL members’ survey: reactions to costs management and the new bill of costs

Every year the Association of Costs Lawyers undertakes a survey of members. This year we received 126 responses, which amounts to more than a fifth of our membership.

When is it reasonable for a claimant to change from legal aid to a conditional fee agreement (CFA)?

This is a key question that has been asked by many civil litigation practitioners, particularly following implementation of the Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 (LASPO).

Costs management changes in the 83rd CPR update: increased opportunity for agreement

Since costs management was introduced in April 2013, one of its key difficulties has been the strain that it has placed on the court’s resources. In part, this is due to often hotly contested arguments over the party’s respective budgets. The pressure became so great in the RCJ that cost budgeting in clinical negligence matters … Continue reading Costs management changes in the 83rd CPR update: increased opportunity for agreement