The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in August, 2011

Senior Courts Costs Office statistics

By on Aug 30, 2011 | 2 comments

The Ministry of Justice’ statistics for the work of the Senior Court Costs Office gives the following: Senior Courts Costs Office Number of costs bills assessed, by type of case giving rise to the bill, 2006–2010 Number of bills Type of case 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 ‘Between parties’ assessments 2,459 2,205 1,888 1,788 1,788 Civil legal aid assessments 6,315 5,756 5,146 4,319 4,542 Receivers’ costs in the Court of Protection1 4,082 4,528 4,710 5,054 4,960 Appeals against determination of costs in the Crown Court 366 528 387 365 289 Total assessments 13,222 13,017 12,131 11,526 11,579   The commentary to the report states: “In 2010, the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) assessed 11,580 bills remaining level since 2009. It reflects the levelling out of the impact of Predictable Costs in Road Traffic Cases, the reduction in technical challenges to Conditional Fee Agreements and fixed success fees.” The broadly flat figures for the last three years would be fine but for the fact the number of costs judges and costs offices is dropping. It is my imagination or are the dates for the listing of hearings in the SCCO getting pushed ever...

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Average legal costs saving

By on Aug 26, 2011 | 6 comments

By how much is the average claim for costs reduced? When I started in costs law, back in 1997, average savings for volume legal costs negotiating work in insurance personal injury claims was in the region of 21-23%. With the advent of claims management firms, ATE premiums and success fees, that rose at one stage to around 30-35%. (Depending on what was included or excluded in the figures different firms managed to massage the figures and direct comparisons have never been possible.) The introduction of predictable costs in RTA claims considerably reduced the scope for argument in low-end RTA work and these claims are probably recorded separately by volume negotiating firms. The introduction of fixed success fees for most RTA, EL and EL disease claims and the decision in Roger v Merthyr Tydfil CBC has considerably reduced the scope for argument in other claims. Has this been made up for with increased claims for hourly rates and time? Where do average savings now...

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The cost of legal advice

By on Aug 17, 2011 | 19 comments

For those claimant lawyers who submit reasonable claims for legal costs (God bless both of you) I am sure that it is often hard to understand the apparently irrational rants from defendants about excessive claims for costs. Some will also struggle to understand why Lord Justice Jackson, after extensive investigations, concluded that there was something seriously wrong. I will therefore give you a small example of the kind of thing that some of us see on a daily basis. A document schedule to a bill of costs contained the following two entries: 1/10/2010 – Attending the file and applicable information and preparing Schedule of Loss – 24 minutes 18/11/10 – Incorporating additional material into Claimant’s Schedule of Loss and updating the same – 24 minutes At this point you may think: what’s the big deal? A total of 48 minutes for preparing a schedule of loss is hardly anything to get excited about. The fee earner was claiming £192 per hour plus a 100% success fee plus VAT at 20%. Therefore, the total being claimed for preparing this document was £368.64. To put this into context, the Office for National Statistics lists the median weekly pay for full-time employees in the UK for 2010 as £499. After tax, the take home pay for the average full-time worker is almost exactly the same as was claimed for the preparation of this document. And what did this document look like that a claimant solicitor is prepared to seek £368.64 for? Have a look: here (click to view or go online if you receive this via email). I have anonymised the document but frankly I should probably be naming and shaming the solicitors and well known costs firm responsible. It’s not just those looting in the streets who believe in something for...

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Carver v BAA – Winning at any cost?

By on Aug 15, 2011 | 4 comments

A recent comment on a LinkedIn discussion forum raised the issue of whether the proposed changes to the Part 36 rules and the formal reversal of Carver v BAA were sensible. The proposed changes will make clear that where a money offer is beaten at trial, by however small a margin, the costs sanctions applicable under CPR 36 will apply. It will be remembered that this was one of Lord Justice Jackson’s main proposals. But wait a moment. LJ Jackson also believes that recoverable costs should be limited to what is proportionate to the amounts at stake. Surely this should apply equally when there is an offer on the table. In the case of Carver, even if we accept that a claimant who beats a defendant’s offer by £51 has achieved a more advantageous outcome, surely the question should still be asked as to whether the further costs incurred to recover the extra £51 are proportionate. What additional costs would be proportionate to throw at a case to get an extra...

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