The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in December, 2008

2009 Guideline Hourly Rates

By on Dec 30, 2008 | 0 comments

The Advisory Committee on Civil Costs has released updated Guideline Hourly Rates to apply from 1st January 2009. It has been made clear that these are very much interim in nature and that further investigations will be conducted to determine whether the overall levels are appropriate. In particular, this will consider the 20-35% difference in rates charged by claimant’s solicitors compared with defendants’ solicitors and the extent to which the Guideline Hourly Rates allow for referral fees to be paid by claimants’ solicitors. Other than a general increase to reflect earnings inflation, the main change to the Guideline Rates is to increase Band Three rates to Band Two...

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Expert Witness

By on Dec 30, 2008 | 0 comments

GWS partner Simon Gibbs acted as an expert witness in the field of the legal costs industry in the case of Andrew Reid v Capita Group. The case recently settled on confidential terms.

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Contingency Fees

By on Dec 30, 2008 | 0 comments

The past year has seen a plethora of announcements as to major reviews into the future of the legal costs system. However, given the damp squib that emerged from the new Claims Process proposals one does wonder whether the current Government really has any appetite for a major overhaul of the system. Nevertheless, one of the recent reviews undertaken considered the radical possibility of shifting to contingency fees. The study was undertaken by Professor Richard Moorhead and Senior Costs Judge Peter Hurst. The overall conclusion was that this represented a viable alternative to the current system. It was recognised that there was some unpredictability as to what impact this would have on “access to justice”, in particular in relation to lower value claims. The review did not actually recommend a change to a contingency fees but rather suggested it would represent a possible alternative if the current CFA system failed following a collapse in the ATE market. However, following the Court of Appeal’s decision in Rogers v Merthyr Tydfil CBC [2006] EWCA Civ 1134, which largely gave ATE insurers a blank cheque as to what level to set their ATE premiums, there seems to be little immediate danger of such a collapse. Even so, when the Senior Costs Judge is willing to consider such radical proposals it does reveal the extent of the concerns about the operation of the current...

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15th Annual Solicitors Costs Conference

By on Dec 11, 2008 | 0 comments

We are pleased to be able to announce that Simon Gibbs of GWS as been invited for the second year running to be a speaker at the prestigious CLT Annual Solicitors Costs Conference. He will be speaking on the subject of “Personal Injury – The New Claims Process”. The event will be held on 30th January 2009 in London. For a copy of the Conference Brochure use this link: Brochure. We are able to arrange a 20% discount on the normal delegate fees to any of our clients. Please contact us if you would like to take advantage of this...

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Accident Line Protect – The final (?) decision

By on Dec 11, 2008 | 0 comments

Earlier today judgment was handed down in the long-awaited Accident Line Protect (ALP) Test Cases (reported as Tankard v John Fredricks Plastics Ltd [2008] EWCA Civ 1375. In previous Costs Law Updates we have been following the progress of these cases but will outline again the main issues. These challenges centred around the issue of whether there had been a breach of Regulation 4(2)(e)(ii) of the now revoked CFA Regulations 2000, which required the legal representative to inform the client before a CFA was entered into: “(e) whether the legal representative considers that any particular method or methods of financing any or all of those costs is appropriate and, if he considers that a contract of insurance is appropriate or recommends a particular such contract: (ii) whether he has an interest in doing so.” In Garrett v Halton Borough Council [2006] EWCA Civ 1017 the Court of Appeal had held to be invalid a CFA where the solicitors had failed to inform the client that they had an interest in recommending an insurance policy. This was on the basis that, although the solicitors had told their client that they were on a claims management company’s panel (Ashley Ainsworth), they had failed to inform the client that they thereby had an indirect financial interest in recommending the policy, because if they did not recommend the particular insurance policy they would have their panel membership withdrawn. The Court concluded that the profit generated by cases referred was likely to be of greater significance to the solicitors than any commissions that might be paid on insurance premiums. It was this failure to disclose to the client that they had a financial interest in remaining on the panel, which would be lost if the client did not accept their recommendation that they enter into this specific After-the-Event (ATE) policy, that amounted to a material breach of the Regulations, as the client did not know that the solicitors were recommending the policy because this was dictated by their financial interest. Under the ALP Scheme, the standardised CFAs recommended that the client obtain an ATE policy with Accident Line Protect and stated that the solicitor did “not have an interest in recommending this particular insurance...

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