2 January, 2013
Law costs draftsmen, costs lawyers and others working in the field of legal costs are set to have a great 2013.
This may sound counterintuitive given the Jackson costs reforms are being introduced this year but it is worth considering the facts.
Costs budgeting is set to be introduced in April. Overall this is bad news for costs practitioners. Costs budgeting produces a small amount of frontloading of costs work (preparing budgets and seeking the courts’ approval) which is more than offset by the loss of work at the end of the claim (drafting bills, points of dispute and replies, negotiating costs and attending detailed assessment hearings). However, given the life cycle of a typical claim, 2013 is likely to produce the additional work generated by costs budgeting without practitioners experiencing the corresponding loss of work at the end of a claim. Claims subject to costs budgeting are unlikely to settle this year.
Inter partes recoverability of success fees and ATE premiums is due to end in April. This is almost certainly likely to reduce the number of costs dispute. However, the change will not be retrospective and it is unlikely that the negative impact on cost work will therefore be felt this year. Again, the vast majority of claims where this is likely to be relevant will simply not have settled.
The extension of the RTA portal will have a dramatic impact on work volumes. But the news that implementation will not happen in April will again mean that the impact of this change will not be felt in 2013.
The really noteworthy factor to consider is the number of substantive claims that are likely to settle this year. Whereas claimants solicitors immediately see the additional work generated by new claims, those working in costs traditionally have to wait until the conclusion of a matter for it to produce any cost work. Recent years have seen an ever increasing number of new claims being brought. 2013 should see these figures translating into additional costs work.
This combination of factors should see a boom in 2013 for those working in legal costs.
2014 will be crap.