The defendant costs specialists

Costs Lawyer regulation

By on May 16, 2013 | 30 comments

The government has rejected calls for will-writing to be made a reserved legal activity despite there being clear consumer protection issues surrounding badly drafted wills. There is now absolutely no prospect of such a minority sport as costs drafting becoming a reserved activity.

As Costs Lawyer Jon Williams has observed, the Association of Costs Lawyers and Costs Lawyer Standards Board will hopefully take note before spending further time or money pressing for regulation.

    30 Comments

  1. oh good, so does this mean an end to the elitists that purvey the stupid idea that only Cost Lawyers, are capable of drawing proper bills? maybe then we can also consigne the equally stupid myth that the “advocacy lecture” cost lawyers attend to be qualified, actually enables them to be advocates??
    sorry for the rant, there are many,many excellent cost lawyers, but far to much rhetoric from certain quarters about how having the title makes them ALL good, indeed supposedly better than us mere mortals

    Anonymous

    16th May 2013

  2. So true, anonymous 8.50am

    Anonymous

    16th May 2013

  3. The fact of the matter is that clients, solicitors, insurers, Costs Judges etc. know that if a man or woman is a CL then he or she has reached a certain professional standard.

    If the person appearing before them is a costs draftsman then he is an unknown quantity.

    All professional bodies have to start somewhere. The CILEX was started by managing clerks. The Law Society was founded by some London solicitors in the early 19th century who set up a committee.

    It is beyond doubt that within the next ten years a costs draftsman will have no choice but to join the ACL if he wants status and decent clients.

    Annon

    16th May 2013

  4. You don’t need to be a member of the ACL to be a practicing costs lawyer. Is it beyond doubt that 10 years from now there will be enough costs lawyers left to continue to fund the CLSB?

    Simon Gibbs

    16th May 2013

  5. @Annon the 1st paragraph of your comments, proves my point exactly – the title hides the truth, they dont KNOW, they presume, and unfortunately the proof is often sadly lacking.

    perhaps if the ACL or CLSB actually looked at how they awarded the CL to all its members historically, then there would be more credence in the title.

    personally, i prefer the clients, opponents and Judges to know who is before them when i appear, by virtue of my reputation, not my title

    keep your status, i will keep my clients, and yours probably, without being a CL, now, or in 10 or 20 years time

    @ Simon. well said, and very true. its a sad fact most dont realise, that running a club, costs money

    Anonymous

    17th May 2013

  6. The title of CL is no guarantee of reaching any professional standard. It is no guarantee that the person has EVER passed an exam or an assessment. It is no guarantee of quality at all!

    Costs Draftsperson

    17th May 2013

  7. The last two contributors doth protest too much, methinks.

    Annon

    17th May 2013

  8. Is anything I have written not true? What does CL status tell the client? Nothing. This is why the ACL will never get what they want. Had they made all CL PASS an advocacy exam and PASS a proper course then they could make their arguments. But they didn’t. I know CLs who have never passes any exam or course in their life! The ACL did this all wrong and they can’t moan if people point this out. p.s. I see that the CLSB are still making false claims about CLs on their website. When will the LSB look into this?

    Costs Draftsperson

    21st May 2013

  9. I like the article from Mr Heining this morning, urging solicitors to us CL’s as they are qualified and have insurance – oh good, someone to sue 🙂

    seriously though, the article is yet further evidence of elitism, protectionism, and burying the collective head in the sand to the problems over what a CL actually is, as opposed to what they put it forward as. Like i say, many, many great CL’s out there, but many are mediocre at best and do not deserve the status being put forward for them

    Anonymous

    21st May 2013

  10. I, too, know CL who have never passed an exam. But they are a minority and many are approaching retirement.

    For decades, to qualify as a solicitor all you had to do (if your family could afford it) was pay a premium to a solicitor and serve 5 years unpaid articles. No exams.

    Let me put it another way. Would it be prudent for a 18 year old entering costs today NOT to become a costs lawyer? Whether any sane 18 year old should enter the law in general and costs in particular is another question.

    Annon

    21st May 2013

  11. The terms ”costs lawyer” applies to all people involved in costs law, irrespective of whether they have passed this irrelevant exam.

    There is plenty of work to go around, and I really feel sorry for those who feel that they need to protect it for themselves.

    One question.

    If a law costs professional has years and years experience drafting complex bills, dealing with complex and novel points of costs law, written and advocacy, at the highest level, then what does that make them.

    Untrustworthy? This really beggars belief, and is such a blatant and grotesque attempt to deregulate many hard working and very good costs professionals. What a sad state of affairs.

    I have news for all ye insecure ”costs lawyers”.

    What work does an unregulated ”litigation executive” do?

    Advises on the law, negotiates on the law, instructs counsel and can attend hearings. Thats right muppets, exactly what a solicitor does and in some cases they are paid more money.

    Wake up and go and get a hobby instead of trying to ruin your fellow professionals lives (yes its true, they are exactly the same as you. No bigger, no smaller).

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    21st May 2013

  12. On a purely philosophical note (it is near my bed time)that if all these self serving (and slightly egotistical) ”costs lawyers” want to prove there superiority I have a challenge.

    The challenge is thus, and is quite a formidable one based on a theory called ”market forces” and a concept known as ”word of mouth”.

    By their very essence, costs professionals (whether jumped up costs lawyers, costs draftsman, or people who qualified as a solicitor but could not get a job in substantive law and so went into costs), rely on market forces and word of mouth like few others.

    Costs can be arcane, complex and is forever changing. Clients will not hang around following even one monumental mistake at assessment.

    If you are so sure of your superiority, why dont you let every costs professional join you club, without an exam (as it is pointless anyway)?

    I hear you scream from your lofty towers, stroking your money, ”but how will we know they have passed they exacting standard that is the costs lawyer exam, and undertake the thoroughly detailed [and profitable] seminars”

    The answer is too simple. They will be regulated, and if anyone complains and has good reason (cos they are negligent) then they will be struck off.

    It wouldnt be any simpler. Put your money where your mouth is.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    21st May 2013

  13. “…By their very essence, costs professionals (whether jumped up costs lawyers, costs draftsman, or people who qualified as a solicitor but could not get a job in substantive law and so went into costs), rely on market forces and word of mouth like few others…”

    As opinionated and off beam as ever, however,

    There are not that many of us in my experience but qualifying as a solicitor and proudly entering the costs world, as opposed to being a menial low end civil or indeed commercial litigator was the best thing I ever did. Waiting on experts reports in the magical world of PI for months on end, which was the other recessionary alternative..

    Not least to witness the crazy micro politics pervading the often murky world of legal costs and by extension their regulatory system.

    Budgeting will be my salvation as most solicitors out there have yet to realise that the money tree has well and truly dried up and front loading an action is a new a concept to them as learning double dutch would be.

    Condemned to live in very interesting times once we shake off the negativity and blatant vested interests which has put the skids on a proper implementation of Jackson / costs budgeting.

    The best of us will now be centre stage – when the profession in broad terms finally grasp the nettle…

    All of these teething problems and petty squabbles will be done by the year is out.

    Market forces have now intruded upon the law – about time.

    People will have to leave the law but it’s about time some of the deadwood departed the stage anyway..

    Anonymous

    22nd May 2013

  14. Deadwood Stage. I feel a musical coming on.

    Maybe all the Family Law and Criminal Solicitors and Counsel, to be forced out by the cuts to Public Funding s could retrain as Costs Lawyers. I’m sure most have attended courses before.

    Anonny

    22nd May 2013

  15. I don’t understand why it is that whenever the words “costs lawyer” appear on this blog, a load of people start saying how bad costs lawyers are and about how non-costs lawyers are just as good or better. Why is it necessary? Truly Eminent says costs lawyers are insecure. From the evidence on this blog, it’s completely obvious that it’s the other way around – non-qualified costs people are the insecure ones who feel the need to launch an attack whenever costs lawyers are mentioned.

    By the way, just so you know, I’m not qualified.

    Richard

    23rd May 2013

  16. Richard – you are way off the mark.

    The ACL is actively trying to make bill drafting a reserved activity for costs lawyers.

    Why do you think this is? Do you think they’re genuinely concerned about whether solicitors’ files are being handled correctly, or indeed if its a deliberate ploy to corner the market for themselves?

    Any costs professional needs to be good to keep their clients in this complex area of the law.

    In effect what the ACL is saying is that ”although you may be happy with your costs draftsman, we are telling you that a costs lawyer would be better, and are more professional”

    Total arrogance in my honest opinion.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    23rd May 2013

  17. Here is a quote from the new ACL chairman, Murray Heining in a litigation futures article entitled ”new costs lawyer chief targets solicitors”:

    “It is surprising that solicitors take such risks when it comes to securing their costs, although we suspect that this is simply because they do not appreciate that the person holding themselves out as a costs expert does not have the credentials to back up their claim. We intend to put that right by explaining that as professional people, solicitors should only deal with other professionals.”

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    23rd May 2013

  18. The right credentials? Don’t make me laugh. Joing as an associate, getting an automatic upgrade to a fellow and then sitting in a hall for a day and you are suddenly more professional than others who have been doing the job for many years? Oh, and many costs draftsman have insurance in any event. The ACL are looking silly but it is up to non costs lawyers to counter the propaganda.

    Costs Draftsperson

    23rd May 2013

  19. I think I might start a campaign to highlight the dangers of assuming a ”costs lawyer” is an expert by virtue of the examinations and required cpd points.

    I can point out that I have taken the examinations, received a very high score with minimal revision and how the cpd points are totally pointless and cover issues which I am already aware of because you need to be to practice costs law day in, day out.

    There is no substitute for experience. And the suggestion that solicitors do not know a good costs draftsman from a bad one is very poor form.

    My solicitor clients use several costs professionals and so have a very good idea of what is out there. Indeed many of my instructions have initially been handed to a costs lawyer who could not get a certain recovery, while I was able to settle the case on good terms.

    On what evidence the ACL is basing their misguided smears about non-ACL costs professionals is far from clear.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    23rd May 2013

  20. Oh i see, now that the squeeze is on there is to be mutiny of CL’s by those who didnt bother to get qualified or simply were not good enough??

    I agree that many non Costs Lawyers are still formidable costs consultants/draftsmen etc and those people should be protected, however many are not! on the whole its the idiotic non costs lawyers who give us all a bad name. This is not to say all CL’s are great, but in terms of the top 10 idiotic costs people/companies on the radar non are reputable costs lawyers.

    Reserve bill drafting to CL’s and then those who are talented will have no choice but to join. Its time we stick together.

    Those who are not talented can toddle off and sweep up in McDonalds for all I care.

    CostsLawyersRule

    23rd May 2013

  21. Having taken the examinations I cannot foresee that many (if any at all) people have failed this exam!

    In my experience that cowboys you are referring to are costs negotiators who use standard cut and paste arguments in their pods and just horse trade on their target % recovery.

    How these people can influence a decision to reserve bill drafting is quite simply beyond me.

    Why dont you just be honest with yourself – this pr smear campaign is self serving and does nothing except potentially line the pockets of the ACL and its members.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    23rd May 2013

  22. @costlawyersrule your name and attitude say it all
    the point being made, is the title CL is ONLY that – a title. It doesnt make you better. It doesnt guarantee you are even any good.Many defendant-only costs draftsmen cant even draw a bill !!!
    I personally didnt “bother” through disgust at the ALCD promoting people to their ranks by handshake on interview only; promoting associates to Fellows to swell the fellows membership to become the ACL; ludicrously believing a 1 day lecture actually makes somebody fit to Advocate or be on record.

    There is no distinction between the “idiotic” people you refer to, just as many are CL’s as not, in fact it is a greater shame when they are CL’s, as you have to wonder how they ever managed to get the title at all

    Anonymous

    23rd May 2013

  23. Wow, im calling for costs people to unite and get strength in numbers whether you are CL or not and you are calling it a PR smear campaign?

    Sorry to burst your bubble, but you dont sound like a truly eminent professional, you sound like you need a new challenge.

    CostsLawyersRule

    23rd May 2013

  24. ”Sorry to burst your bubble, but you dont sound like a truly eminent professional, you sound like you need a new challenge.”

    Another wildly unsubstantiated comment that stinks of arrogance.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    23rd May 2013

  25. I do not rate the course itself and I do not believe it prepares the student very well for a life in costs. I have learnt much more on the job and the advocacy seminar was spent drafting pleadings.

    However, I heard that a large number, almost a third of students failed to pass the last exam (although it may be incorrect). Perhaps the pass standards and quality of questions are improving/getting tougher.

    ACL Student

    24th May 2013

  26. @ ACL Student the pass standards and questions havent changed, as they are all based on the same laws everyone uses

    tie your rumour to the fact that the ACL are not taking on member applications at all; they are campaigning to limit drafting to CL’s only; the less that pass, the better for the ACL

    question to the ACL – if only CL’s are to be able to draw bills, what do all your student members do for 5 years? are you seriously suggesting that a raw student on the course, is better suited and able to draw a bill, than peple whom are 20 years in the profession and wont join you because they disagree with your methods? once more, very clearly anti-competition

    Anonymous

    24th May 2013

  27. When i attended the advocacy seminar I was told by Murray Heining:

    ”you cant teach advocacy”

    Just about says it all really!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    24th May 2013

  28. This blog seems to bring out the worst in both Costs Lawyers and non Costs Lawyers.

    Many people seem to have their own agendas and some people seem quite bitter. In an ideal world, the best costs professionals would be regulated by an organisation where all of the members have passed a professional qualification to attain their membership and can be held out to be true professionals in their field.

    Unfortunately, given the history of the ACL and the memberships given out early in its history, the ACL cannot claim to be this.

    I can see where some people are coming from, but it is the only thing we have got by way of a regulatory body of professionals in our field. This is why I think it is better to embrace the ACL. Many of the issues with membership have been resolved and at least there is a full course and examination procedure in place for its members now. What’s done is done, but the establishment of Costs Lawyers and the increased awareness, which is largely due to the good work of Iain Stark in raising our profile, cannot be anything but beneficial for the profession and the collective voice of the ACL will certainly help the long term survival of many of us.

    Annon

    28th May 2013

  29. I agree that regulation would be a good thing, but I cannot agree with current drive coming from the ACL.

    If all bills of costs could only be prepared by costs lawyers substantive fee earners would lose money.

    There simply isnt enough costs lawyers to go around, and it makes me wonder whether the real intention would be to make regulated costs lawyers able to ”instruct” non ACL costs draftsmen to undertake the work.

    This would corner the market for ACL costs lawyers, but in effect, would not have any effect on whether non ACL costs draftsmen would be preparing the bills in the first place.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    28th May 2013

  30. And still no reply to the earlier question – what makes a defendant based CL, whom has rarely, if ever, drawn a bill, better suited to drawing bills now???
    What indeed of those in-house whom only do private client bills and wouldn’t know an inter-prates bill if it bit them???
    Elitism and snobbery is all this is, and if the ACL or anyone else had wanted to be representative, then they should not have given out Fellowships on handshakes or default promotion, or even now have something realistic that represents proper training in advocacy

    Ps I know dozens of CLs who would never think of going on record, as they don’t know how or what it entails and it scares them.

    Anonymous

    28th May 2013

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