The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in October, 2009

And so what do you do?

By on Oct 30, 2009 | 2 comments

In the past, when meeting people for the first time, I have always dreaded being asked what it is I do for a living.  To a non-lawyer there is no easy way to explain the role of a defendant costs consultant.  However, the recent furore over MPs’ expenses has made my task easier. Now, when I get asked this question, I can respond: “You know the way when MPs were allowed to police their own expenses they claimed for the most outrageous things?  Well, claimant lawyers are much the same when it comes to their legal billing.  I’m the type of lawyer whose job it is to police claimant lawyers and stop them from claiming for their duck house or to have their moat cleaned”. If any readers have a better summary of a defendant law costs consultant’s role, that is remotely printable, please feel free to add under...

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Challenging success fees

By on Oct 28, 2009 | 2 comments

The, now revoked, Collective Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 2000 state: “5. (1) Where a collective conditional fee agreement provides for a success fee the agreement must provide that, when accepting instructions in relation to any specific proceedings the legal representative must prepare and retain a written statement containing – (a) his assessment of the probability of the circumstances arising in which the percentage increase will become payable in relation to those proceedings (“the risk assessment”); (b) his assessment of the amount of the percentage increase in relation to those proceedings, having regard to the risk assessment; and (c) the reasons, by reference to the risk assessment, for setting the percentage increase at that level.” In Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals (Cardiff County Court, 28/2/07) the paying party sought to argue that a failure to prepare a statement of reasons in accordance with Regulation 5(1) rendered the retainer invalid and all costs should therefore be disallowed.  That argument was rejected on the basis that “the natural and ordinary meaning of the regulation is that there must be a provision in a CCFA that complies with the specification set out in the regulation. Regulation 5(1) does not additionally require that the prescribed provision must be performed”. Is that an end to the story?  Not quite.  The ever ingenious Gibbs Wyatt Stone recently acted for the Defendant in an EL claim (Middleton v Mainland Market Deliveries Ltd (Southampton CC, 20/10/09)).  The Claimant’s Bill claimed a 100% success fee on the basis that the fixed EL success fees had been applied to the case when the claim was accepted under the CCFA and the matter had settled at trial.  In fact, the date of the accident was such that it did not fall within the fixed success fee regime.  The judge accepted that fixed success fees did not apply as a matter of law and that the Court could not simply adopt the fixed success fee figures when assessing the success fee in this case (see Atack v Lee [2004] EWCA Civ 1712). Costs Practice Direction 32.5(1)(b) requires a receiving party to serve with his Bill: “a statement of the reasons for the percentage increase given in accordance with Regulation 3(1)(a) of the...

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Future of the legal costs industry

By on Oct 23, 2009 | 1 comment

An article of mine was recently published in the Solicitors Journal on the future of the legal costs industry.  For those who haven’t already read it, it can be found here (click link).  Sure to ruffle a few...

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New legal costs publication

By on Oct 21, 2009 | 0 comments

I previously mentioned (see post) the forthcoming publication of a new book on the subject of legal costs. I suggested that this book might become the indispensable book on the subject. I have now had the great privilege of seeing a working draft of the book and I was wrong. There is no question as to whether this book will become the bible of the costs world – it will. I really can’t begin to explain how excited I am about this new book, and one doesn’t often see the word “excited” appear in the same paragraph as “legal costs”. The book is being written by highly respected specialist costs counsel Dr Mark Friston. More details to...

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