The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in February, 2010

Costs Law Reports

By on Feb 17, 2010 | 0 comments

In a previous post I commented on the unsatisfactory way that legal costs case law (see post) is scattered all over the place and the problems this causes trying to keep on top of developments. One potential solution to this problem may come from the re-launched Costs Law Reports.  This is a publication that has gone through (to put it mildly) recent difficulties.  It is now in the hands of new publishers who are making a very serious attempt to make this the most comprehensive collection of costs case law available.  The service will officially re-launch at the beginning of March.  Further information can be obtained by emailing:  There will still be a print service, but more interesting is an online service with a fully searchable database and an email alerting service. More exciting still, I understand that the publishers longer term goal is to try to bring together on the online database a fully comprehensive collection of costs case law going way beyond those cases reported in the print version.  If this ambitious goal can be achieved then this will become an absolutely invaluable tool for those with any involvement in legal costs.  The Legal Costs Blog strongly supports Costs Law Reports in this...

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Reasonable legal costs – Compared to what?

By on Feb 16, 2010 | 1 comment

It is not unusual for me to make offers in relation to claimants’ bills of costs that represents only a fraction of the amount claimed.  However, from time to time the response I receive is not simply the inevitable one of displeasure but what appears to be a genuine reaction of incredulity.  There appears to be total disbelief in relation to the figures I have put forward, particularly in relation to document time in high value claims.  The claimant’s lawyer takes the view that no solicitor, however good, could possibly be expected to undertake the work in so little time. The problem that many claimant lawyers have is that their experience of what is "normal", in terms of time taken to run a claim, is often limited to no more than how long it takes them, or possibly some of their colleagues in the same firm, to run similar cases.  They have no idea how other firms handle such claims or how quickly.  If they spend 100 hours on documents for a certain type of disease claim they assume that is normal and reasonable.  The fact that the majority of other firms, for a similar claim, might take, for example, 50 hours is something totally outside their field of experience. On the other hand, as a defendant costs practitioner, I see large numbers of bills of costs from firms throughout the country.  In my capacity as a manager, I have seen literally thousands more claims for costs beyond those I have dealt with personally.  It is staggering the difference in the size of a bill from an efficient firm compared to those from inefficient firms.  Before some readers start complaining that they should not be criticised for dealing methodically and conscientiously with their clients’ claims and not cutting corners, my experience is that the best fee earners, in terms of the results they achieve for their clients, are very often exactly the same ones who produce the most modest bills.  It is often those firms that are not real specialists (despite their claims to the contrary) who under-settle claims, take twice as long to achieve under-settlement, and then produce the highest bills.  One of the obvious criticisms of the...

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Another VAT change?

By on Feb 15, 2010 | 0 comments

Legal costs practitioners are still struggling to work out exactly how the most recent VAT change impacts on what level of VAT to apply to different periods in bills of costs.  What news do we now receive?  Both Labour and the Conservatives are apparently considering a VAT increase to 20% to help fill the massive public deficit.  Are they deliberately trying to torture us?  ...

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Bill of Costs

By on Feb 12, 2010 | 2 comments

To outsiders the language of the legal costs world can seem strange and archaic.  Why are “indemnity costs” and the “indemnity principle” totally different and totally unrelated?  Why did “taxing masters” have nothing to do with tax? To help cast some light on this obscure area of law the Legal Costs Blog is pleased introduce The (Alternative) Legal Costs Dictionary.  Over coming weeks we hope that these clear and concise definitions will provide invaluable assistance.   Bill of Costs (claimant’s) n.  a work of fiction (usu. pure fantasy). Bill of Costs (defendant’s) n.  a true and accurate account of the work reasonably and proportionality done to secure access to justice for a defendant who has had a claim entirely lacking in merit brought against...

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Default costs certificates

By on Feb 11, 2010 | 1 comment

In legal costs it can often be the case that a judgment that is concerned with one particular issue may have unexpected relevance in another area.  One example of this is the case of Roundstone Nurseries Ltd v Stephenson Holdings Ltd [2009] EWHC 1431 (TCC). The matter concerned a claim where proceedings had been issued.  The parties agreed that the proceedings should be stayed by court order to allow for the parties to complete the Pre-Action Protocol process.  The period of the stay came to an end but neither party had applied to the court to extend the stay of the proceedings, despite the Defendant noting in correspondence that such an extension was needed.  In the absence of a defence being filed by the Defendant, the Claimant, without any further reference to the Defendant, applied for and obtained judgment in default.  The Claimant subsequently agreed to have the judgment in default set aside by consent but claimed they were entitled to their costs of the application to set aside and should not be required to pay the Defendant’s costs of the application. The judge, Mr Justice Coulson, accepted that the Claimant was technically entitled to enter judgment.  However, the judge concluded: “During the course of his helpful submissions on this point, Mr. Crangle went so far as to say that, if a claimant was technically entitled to enter judgment in default then he was entitled to do so, even if he knew that the defendant had a real prospect of defending the claim and therefore setting aside such judgment.  I am afraid I do not accept that submission: it seems to me that it is contrary to the entire basis of the Civil Procedure Rules.  If a claimant knows that, because of some technical glitch, he could enter judgment in default against the defendant, but that the defendant had a real prospect of successfully defending the claim (and therefore getting judgment set aside) then that claimant should not, at least as a general rule, enter judgment in default.  If he does, it seems to me that he must face the costs consequences of that decision.” This decision seems to be relevant in relation to default costs certificates.  Although the...

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