The defendant costs specialists

Costs budgeting

By on Jun 13, 2013 | 13 comments

Job advertisement in Costs Lawyer magazine:

“specialist Law Cost Practice is looking to recruit an experienced law costs specialist who can deal with bill drafting, PODs and costs budgeting. The ideal candidate will have a minimum of 2 years experience dealing with all areas of Law Costs”

Given the limited costs management pilots, I doubt many, if any, costs draftsmen with only two years’ experience will have any costs budgeting experience, much less had the opportunity to discover whether 2-3 years later those budgets have proved to be even remotely realistic.

We therefore have the bizarre prospect of costs firms holding themselves out as being skilled at preparing costs budgets when they intend to give the work to those with no actual experience of the task and almost certainly far too little practical experience to make even an educated guess.

    13 Comments

  1. But when did lying about a costs draftsman’s abilities ever stop the costing market. Any one who thinks that there is a future in costs is a fool. Eventually when this budgeting idea doesn’t work and inexperienced costs draftsman / lawyers (or whatever we are meant to be calling ourselves this week) have helped to cock it up, we will move to the German system of fixed costs and all be out of a job.

    Anon o mouse

    13th June 2013

  2. I know – let’s start calling ourselves “Costs Quantity Surveyors” – that makes us sound better. We attended a course for a day in a hotel in Midlands, so we are qualified to call ourselves that aren’t we ?

    ANON

    13th June 2013

  3. The german regime is based on a fixed % of how much money is recovered.

    However, there are many other areas of litigation where no money is obtained i.e. injunctions, judicial reviews etc.

    How would the german regime predict those costs?

    And what if, as is so often the case in, for example, actions against the police, the claim involves mixed elements of HRA, personal injury, judicial review etc?

    ACL who are they

    13th June 2013

  4. We should not be basing any system on le germans.

    It may be ruthlessly efficient but it is not fair.

    Anon o mouse – have you seen the precedent for preparing budgets? It alot like a bill of costs in some respects – at first glance it seems like too much effort so it is passed to a costs draftsman.

    For the past 50 years costs professionals have been awaiting ‘armageddon’ forcing them into exile, and most probably working as second hand car dealers (you know who you are) but it has never happened.

    Now that Jackson went to all this trouble, and all the changes etc with the system and judicial training I would give you very good odds on the powers that be changing to a german costs system within both of our working lives!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    13th June 2013

  5. I don’t quite understand your indignation about the wording of the advert. I don’t think more than about 1% of Costs Draftsmen currently have any substantial budgeting experience, but as Truly Eminent Costs Professional said, the precedent isn’t that far removed from a bill of costs.

    My money would be that even a two-year qualified Costs Draftsmen would be able to have a much better stab at preparing a realistic budget than a Solicitor, for many of whom costs remains an alien concept, even now.

    Anonymous

    13th June 2013

  6. In an attempt to prevent another Costs Draftsman -v- Costs Lawyer slanging match, perhaps I should have said two-year “experienced” Costs Draftsman rather than “qualified”

    Anonymous

    13th June 2013

  7. two year qualified, 2 year experienced, 2 year CD or two year Costs Lawyer – anyone can guess a budget. The point is that Solicitors have more experience of setting reserves and eventually will realize that instructing someone else to do a budget is not worth the hassle or expense

    Anon

    13th June 2013

  8. Anon – are you serious? Whilst going through and preparing bills of costs i always check the standard costs estimates in letters which are surprisingly inaccurate – which is just basing the time on the clock to the time in the letter.

    This is not to mention a whole raft of other issues which arise that, quite frankly, most solicitors do not have the time nor inclination to learn or deal with!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    13th June 2013

  9. The point is, acquired knowledge will be our enemy. I know of one firm of CDs that are doing a course that teaches their Solicitor clients to prepare budgets. As time goes by, Solicitors will see that budgets are guesswork and they can guess themselves. There might be an initial panic to dump it on a CD, but long term, it will not be a regular income stream for the CD market.

    Anon o mouse

    13th June 2013

  10. A costs firm teaching solicitors to add up, the difference between letters, attendances and such? Truly remarkable.

    When i return bills of costs I explain why it has been prepared in the particular format, with reference to all applicable law and experience.

    The same with pods and replies. The same with detailed assessment hearings.

    In fact i think it is standard practice and alot of costs firms do this.

    As far as I can tell solicitors did not ever use this to undertake the cost drafting work themselves.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    13th June 2013

  11. @TEP 13/06. Well said! I have never understood most draftsmen being scared of educating solicitors on costs – it only serves to make our jobs easier if they know what to look for and record. It doesnt make them experts, it doesnt make them suddenly insistent they will do it all themselves, frankly the smart ones have better things to do! Example, how many solicitors know the law, but do their own advocacy?

    Please all those whom think so negatively now, just go and do some other job, your negativity is tedious and damaging to this healthy profession we have

    Anonymous

    14th June 2013

  12. I’ve just seen a Defendants Budget. Page 1 only of course :p

    i have never seen such trash in my life

    £xk on witness statements – draft directions, no witnesses!! Claimant has only 1.

    1 expert to be instructed, but £more k than witnesses to get it!!! OK, so there will be an experts meeting, but the cost is just stupid

    all figures contrived to round multiples and to fall just under the £25k cap

    I would advise client, to draw this to the Judges attention, as a blatant attempt to obviate the process

    as for this being the future for draftsmen – oh yes it will, because a few rapped knuckles and Judgement from the Courts over this sort of practice, no-body will dare not consulting a draftsman

    oh, and by the way , I do mean draftsman. Not the party line being sprouted by the ACL. Some there forget, there are many of us know many others practice areas, and they sure ain’t bill drafting

    Interesting how nobody ever replies to the question, about all the defendant cost lawyers whom have never drawn a bill……

    Anonymous

    16th June 2013

  13. The above shows the perils of “guessing” which is a term that has been thrown around too much in the previous comments already.

    There is a degree of skill involved in costs budgeting, despite what the doomsayers are saying. It is not simple guesswork but based on previous knowledge of similar cases and insight into what exactly will be done in the future based on all of the facts and after considering all of the documents on file (with input from the conducting fee earner in addition).

    Soon enough firms will find out the perils of delegation, with in some cases, quite harsh consequences.

    The problem is that there are also many costs draftsmen who equally do not have the ability to prepare an adequate costs budget, as is demonstrated by the worrying but all familiar advert that Simon has quoted in his original post. These are the firms/draftsmen who will be the casualties in the long term.

    Annon

    17th June 2013

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