The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in April, 2010

Indemnity Principle

By on Apr 23, 2010 | 1 comment

A further definition from The (Alternative) Legal Costs Dictionary: Indemnity principle n. legal principle that receiving party cannot recover from paying party in legal costs more than he is liable to pay his own lawyer. To make the process fair on detailed assessment, the paying party is denied access to any information concerning the terms of the agreement between the receiving party and his lawyer unless the paying party can first establish a genuine reason to suppose more is being claimed than should be. This is done by producing the kind of evidence that the paying party is not entitled to see. If the paying party had such information, he would not need it. If he does need it, he is denied access to it because he has not been able to produce evidence as to what the evidence will show if it is disclosed. The Catch 22 of legal costs. To compensate for this rule, in the unlikely event that it can be shown that more has been claimed than should have been, the court will treat this as a “most serious disciplinary offence”. Where, during the course of a detailed assessment hearing such a breach is found to have occurred, the judge, mustering the full force of the majesty of the law, will say: “shall we move on to the next item then?”....

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Legal costs shortfall

By on Apr 22, 2010 | 0 comments

The press has been reporting on The British Chiropractic Association (BCA) dropping their libel action against science writer Simon Singh. The BCA had sued Dr Singh over a newspaper article in which he alleged that the organisation promoted “bogus treatments”, such as chiropractic for childhood asthma and colic, which were not supported by evidence. Now, I know nothing about chiropractors and so I’m in no position to comment on whether or not they are nothing but a bunch of quacks peddling a lot of twaddle. You can read the original article from The Guardian here and form your own view. Another example of quacks trying to use English libel law to stifle criticism can be read here: The Doctor Will Sue You Now. (I say “another” in the general sense of the word rather than to imply that the BCA’s libel claim was the previous “example” of quacks acting in this way, for the benefit of any libel lawyers who haven’t got anything better to do with their time.) Interesting though this all is, and crucial from a free speech and scientific investigation perspective, what caught my eye was the report in the The Times claiming that Dr Singh stands to “lose £60,000 in legal costs despite winning. … Although Dr Singh’s lawyers will pursue the BCA for costs, he is likely to recover only 70 per cent of the £200,000 he has spent on defending himself. … [His solicitor] noted, however, that defendants rarely recovered more than 70 per cent of their costs even when libel actions were dropped”. Why should Dr Singh only recover 70% of his costs? It is certainly entirely common on a between the parties detailed assessment for bills to be reduced by at least 30%. That, however, is not the same thing as saying that the unrecovered balance is “reasonable” on a solicitor/own client basis. Those working in the field of legal costs law will recognise the idea of “solicitor/own client” costs that cannot be recovered from the other side. As Ian Moxton, writing in the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen’s Costs Lawyer magazine, recently recognised, there appears to be no definitive definition of what falls into this category. It would generally be...

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Legal Fees Guesstimator

By on Apr 21, 2010 | 1 comment

For those who work in the world of legal costs law it is generally recognised as being, at best, an art rather than a science.  However, the other day I stumbled across an attempt to make the process of predicting legal fees more accurate.  I don’t know what other people stumble across on the internet but I suspect some are using slightly different search terms to me.  A Canadian law firm offers the online Legal Fees Guesstimator (see link).  You enter some very basic details of your future family trial and it produces a guestimate of the likely legal costs. I have no idea how accurate it is but can confidently state that it is sure to produce more accurate figures than many of the claimant legal costs estimates I see...

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Civil Costs: Law and Practice

By on Apr 20, 2010 | 4 comments

The long wait is finally over and Dr Mark Friston’s new book Civil Costs: Law and Practice is finally published.  It should be starting to ship and arrive in bookshops round about now. Was it worth the wait?  Oh, yes. Early drafts may have hinted at it but the final version confirms this book will become the Bible of the legal costs world.  Whenever a complex legal costs issue arises on detailed assessment, this is the book that costs judges will reach for to resolve the issue.  It is simply head-and-shoulders above any other costs book on the market. Some costs books contain little or no commentary on the subject and simply recite large chunks of the CPR or costs case law. Other publications are full of commentary but it is virtually impossible to determine how much of this is based on established points of law, due to an absence of comprehensive referencing, or how much is simply the writer’s opinion. This book manages to bridge that gap. There is not a single proposition put forward that does not have a detailed corresponding reference for the authority (and there are thousands of footnotes). On the rare occasion where the writer’s opinion alone is being given, this is made crystal clear. The chapters are broken down into subchapters dealing with real, practical issues. Subchapters include not only broad topics such “limitation”, “apportionment”, and “oral retainer”, but also day-to-day questions such as “copying charges” and “experts’ fees”. This book is written primarily as practitioners’ text rather than a students’ text. However, sections of it will be invaluable to students taking the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen’s Modular Training Course. Students who remember even a fraction of what is contained within this book will fly through the ALCD’s examinations. The bad news, of sorts, is that this is not an idiot’s guide to costs law. Costs muppets will gain little assistance from this book, although they may still feel obliged to own a copy given this book will be routinely quoted from. This has not been written as a book to read from cover-to-cover. However, those who do so will find their time rewarded a thousand times over. This book is full...

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Service as normal

By on Apr 19, 2010 | 0 comments

Those of you visiting the Legal Costs Blog today and thinking something looks different do not need to worry or have you eyes tested.  The Blog’s previous publishing platform was about to be discontinued meaning that the Blog was about to disappear.  Regular readers (God bless both of you) might have thought that would be something of a shame.  The Blog has therefore had to be exported to a new publishing platform and our IT people have been busy working on this.  Other than some formatting issues with old posts, hopefully the changeover will be nice and smooth (although bear with me while I get used to the new system). I have some exciting posts to bring you over the next few days including a review of Dr Mark Friston’s newly published Civil Costs: Law and...

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