The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in January, 2010

Ahmed v Aventis Pharma Ltd

By on Jan 29, 2010 | 0 comments

The recent case of Ahmed v Aventis Pharma Ltd [2009] EWHC 9052 (Costs) dealt with two small issues but both ones of interest. Firstly, following the decision in Crane v Canons Leisure Ltd [2007 EWCA Civ 1352, where solicitors outsourced the job of sorting and summarising medical records they could treat this work as forming part of their profit costs rather than being treated as a disbursement, and thereby make a profit on this work. The second issue considered whether photocopying charges were recoverable. CPD 4.16(5) states: “The cost of making copies of documents will not in general be allowed but the court may exceptionally in its discretion make an allowance for copying in unusual circumstances or where the documents copied are unusually numerous in relation to the nature of the case”. Master Gordon-Saker dealt with the matter in this way: “Photocopying charges will generally only be allowed where they are exceptional, otherwise they are considered to fall within the solicitor’s overhead. To my mind what is exceptional will have to be measured by the facts of the particular case. In a case where the profit costs are less than £7,000 it would be unusual to see the generation of 2,540 photocopies. Accordingly I would view this as exceptional and allow the sum of £154.80 claimed as a disbursement”. This is no doubt correct. What might be considered exceptional in a low value matter may not be exceptional in a substantial piece of...

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Costs draftsman – A secure career

By on Jan 27, 2010 | 0 comments

I recently came across a job advertisement for a trainee costs draftsman with the following wording: “Are you seeking a career option that is secure? Would you like to work in a niche market? Would you like to work in the field of Law Costs?”.  Secure?  Have I missed something?

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Have defendants been stitched up?

By on Jan 26, 2010 | 0 comments

Before defendants get too excited about the positive recommendations that appear in Lord Justice Jackson’s final report on his Review of Civil Litigation Costs it is time for a reality check.  The first point to note is that we do not know which, if any, of the proposals in the report will be implemented or when this might happen. Secondly, we do know that the new claims process for low value RTAs is due to be launched in April. Now at the time of writing, unless I have missed something, the actual rules have yet to be published.  This is worrying with the start date so close.  Jackson LJ clearly has doubts about the scheme which he expressed in his report: “I have two concerns about the new process in its present form. My first concern is the sheer complexity of the process. Over 80 pages of new material will be added to the rule book, in order to deal with the simplest category of litigation which exists, namely low value RTA claims where liability is admitted. I fear that collectively these procedures might possibly open up a new theatre for the costs war.” Much has been made of the fact that the level of fixed fee is set below the average amounts recovered by claimant lawyers under the current rules.  Good news for defendants.  But, and it may be premature to start looking for problems before we have seen the final rules, one issue looks likely to cause defendants problems unless expressly dealt with in the small print of the new rules. Under the current predictable costs regime, recovery of costs is governed by the level of damages actually agreed.  If a case settles at a level within the small claims track the predictable costs scheme does not apply.  However, under the new claims process the fixed fee of £400 for stage one, providing notification of the claim to the defendant, is payable at the point when liability is admitted.  At this point there will be no medical evidence.  The scheme is only meant to apply where the personal injury element of the claim is at least £1,000.  The Ministry of Justice’s report recognises that some claims may...

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Legal costs case law

By on Jan 25, 2010 | 1 comment

BAILII is a wonderful, and free, resource and contains a section specifically devoted to recent costs law decisions.  These are usually mirrored in the excellent, free, Senior Courts Costs Office website transcripts section.  The downside with these sites is that the first does not provide case summaries and the second provides summaries for some cases but in another part of the website and those are not linked to the full judgments.  Further, with neither of these sites is there a way to obtain notification of new decisions. Lawtel is a subscription service.  It does provide cases summaries and has some interesting decisions not reported elsewhere.  However, this service suffers from two problems (I am not talking now about their bizarre pricing structure).  It has a very useful daily update service that notifies of relevant new court decisions.  Unfortunately, the updates only seem to include recent decisions as opposed to older cases that have only just been added to Lawtel’s database.  Therefore, even if one subscribes to the updates, one can miss important and interesting decisions.  The only way to make sure that other cases have not been reported is to search through the whole database. The second problem with Lawtel is that it does not report many of the cases that appear on the Senior Courts Costs Office site.  One is therefore stuck with having to visit that site on a regular basis to check for new cases and to skim read them to know what the case is about. Surely there could be a one-stop solution to keeping up to speed on all costs decisions.  Sadly, time constraints do not enable me to offer such a service.  There is a ray of hope on the horizon to this problem and I’ll provide more information on this...

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Notice of funding problems

By on Jan 22, 2010 | 1 comment

I previously reported on the important changes to the rules concerning notice of funding (see link).  I understand that at a recent Civil Justice Committee meeting these rules were discussed.  It was reported that some firms are experiencing difficulties in implementing the new rules and concerns were expressed about satellite litigation and the draconian sanctions imposed by the rules.  (I find it somewhat hard to understand why the new rules should be more difficult to follow or be viewed as more harsh than the previous rules.) However, of more interest is the fact that the Committee was of the view that the change was introduced without proper consultation as part of the changes made following the MOJ’s consultation concerning controlling costs in defamation claims and it was not clear how the change came to apply to all proceedings.  Apparently the Committee was looking to see if the change could be...

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