The defendant costs specialists

Costs draftsmen and costs budgeting

By on Jun 10, 2013 | 40 comments

I note that in relation to preparing costs budgets the Final Report on the Costs Management Pilot records that:

“Costs draftsmen were only used in 7% of cases and trainee solicitors or paralegals in 17.2% of cases”

Costs budgeting: the saviour of the costs profession?

    40 Comments

  1. Well happy Monday to you to.

    Jeez, save a little despair for the rest of us eh!!

    Anonymous

    10th June 2013

  2. Jolly good – no costs lawyers used at all.

    This is a clear example of solicitors sorting the wheat from the chaffe !

    ACL who are they

    11th June 2013

  3. Every Costs Lawyer knows the correct spelling is chaff.

    Anon

    11th June 2013

  4. I am a qualified costs lawyer so this proves one thing:

    1) costs lawyers are extremely arrogant breed who instinctively know the ability of all other costs lawyers, to the extent that they can make sweeping statements that they are better at costs than costs draftsmen, costs negotiatiors [yes i know that was spelt wrong] and costs solicitors as well as costs counsel who now sometimes draw bills of costs.

    ACL who are they

    12th June 2013

  5. I keep saying “Why do Budgets” you wont get paid until the end of the claim – years away most times!! get a grip please. Costs lawyer or costs draftsmen it makes no difference!

    Anonymous

    12th June 2013

  6. No. All it proves is that costs is boring and to get through the day a little humour helps.

    Anon

    12th June 2013

  7. And your point is with these ridiculous stats??

    How well will they be done is the question?

    Personally as a fairly recent ex trainee I would not let a trainee anywhere near this stuff….

    Truth be told – the best costs people will be able to make a contribution to this budgeting work and average (complacent) solicitors who work in a vacum / bubble should steer clear as well.

    The expectation that sols would get paid regardless of “product” has been the best casualty of these post 2008 times.

    With Precedent H’s and Part 36’s arrival costs have become more prominent from the start and more technical throughout.

    Stats is a pilot bear no resemblance to how these matters are going to play out.

    Absolute red herring of a post…

    Mr Gibbs – these reforms in theory suit you if you are good as you think you are.

    Why then the negativity and your novel construction of these rules which to me are getting clearer by the day.

    At the end of the day costs are about accountability (to client, o/S and the court) Who is scared of this??

    Oh yeah – complacent, fat cat lawyers would seem to be the answer judging by the quality of debate on here recently.

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  8. I don’t understand how the fact that the one thing that’s meant to be the saviour of costs people (budgets) isn’t in reality giving costs people much extra work can possible be construed as a red herring. Now THAT is a novel construction.

    Richard

    12th June 2013

  9. Long may you not understand Richard.

    How many budgets have you executed of late?

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  10. I am just working on my first budget form. If this is the future of costing, I do not want to be part of it. There is no skill to it – pure guesswork and Solicitors will cotton on (if they have not already) that they might as well do it themselves. When the detailed assessment work dries up, hopefully I will be old enough to call it a day.

    ANON

    12th June 2013

  11. I seem to recall that the pilot guidance said something along the lines of “the information required for the pilot should be available from case management/time recording systems therefore will not generate additional charges for the parties” i.e. the solicitor should engage with the pilot scheme on a pro bono basis.

    It follows that solicitors will assign tasks to the office cat aka a trainee solicitor or paralegal if they cannot charge for the work (although why you would entrust a trainee to carry out a task of worth is beyond me).

    With the active budgeting scheme there is a guide to how much the pilot should cost and the lawyer merely has to point their client to this in order to substantiate a charge for their work or to the costs of instructing a costs draftsman/lawyer to prepare the budget.

    In my experience litigation lawyers have very little understanding of the costs that are to be incurred and their estimates to their clients reflect this (Reynolds v Stone Rowe Brewer anyone?).

    What is needed is a third party who has an understanding of costs and of the relevant stages that are required in a case in order to prepare a reasonable budget which reflect the work that is required. Anybody around here know of such a person/group of people?

    Charles Wheatcroft

    12th June 2013

  12. Simon Gibbs – The Adrian Durham of the Legal Costs Industry.

    Costs Monkey #154894

    12th June 2013

  13. Let me rephrase. The assertion that the fact that hardly any costs drafting people are doing budgets is very obviously not a red herring. Obviously you are not understanding – you are just saying “just because the facts say cost drafting people are not getting the work, since I think they should get the work, that means the stats are irrelevant. A bit silly don’t you think? If I got a speeding ticket, that would be a fact. Just because I think I shouldn’t have got the ticket, it doesn’t mean I didn’t get the ticket!

    Richard

    12th June 2013

  14. What, he was mugged after attending a detailed assessment (or even at the detailed assessment).

    Jackson

    12th June 2013

  15. Richard – the sample is way too small that’s all.

    Where the action is at in budgeting is making detailed/accurate/realistic/proper assumptions and contingencies at outset, standing by them at first CMC and then actively monitoring the budgets (revisions et al) through to the end.

    Trust a third rate costs person or the office cat or a yummy mummy solicitor to this monumental task and you will rightly reap what you sow!

    Charles W – I agree…

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  16. And thats a FACT!

    Rafa Benitez

    12th June 2013

  17. Richard, the difference is that you took action to obtain your hypothetical speeding ticket.

    What you should be doing is chasing down the *actual* costs budgeting work.

    There is 1% or £1000 to be had in preparing the budget. If it takes a solicitor 6 hours to prepare the budget, it makes more sense to instruct a costs draftsman/lawyer to do the job in 4 doesn’t it. At grade D obviously 😉

    Charles Wheatcroft

    12th June 2013

  18. Is Truly Eminent Costs Draftsman on holiday ?

    ANON

    12th June 2013

  19. @Bill Fay: you make budgeting sound sexy (where the action is, yummy mummy solicitor)

    I bet this is what costs is like up north. You would probably only need 1 budget per month to give it large round the local council estate!

    ACL who are they

    12th June 2013

  20. ACL

    Good try.

    I am outta London now via numerous legal jurisdictions.

    Although as a non-Englishman – good to observe yet again the burning southern prejudice (vs the grim north) you possess.

    The best Northern sols are twice as ethical and half as cheap as many of those that populate the car park that is the south east!!

    But yeah – I find this site as staid as UK law generally but generally somewhat informative – and I thank you all for that…

    However the pettiness and blatant vested interests recently has been pretty poor.

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  21. I hate to point this out but dont you mean ”burning northern prejudice” as opposed to ”burning southern prejudice” ?

    Still it doesnt really matter, all costs people up north are unqualified and cowboy costs central.

    I realise this is a sweeping statement totally devoid of any evidence, and this does not sound credible.

    Perhaps if I was speaking on behalf of the Association of Costs Liars this would sound acceptable.

    ACL who are they

    12th June 2013

  22. You point nowt out to me thank you.

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  23. I assume you are a costs draftsman bill?

    If you work via several jurisdictions this leads me to believe you are involved in comm lit/arbitration/shipping etc?

    If so can you enlighten us as to whether your firm or others like it only use costs lawyers?

    ACL who are they

    12th June 2013

  24. Careful with assuming owt either my fellow traveller.

    Lawyers (no problem using this catch all to include all and sundry) fall into 2 categories.

    Good and Bad.

    Analogous to the two types of music theory too!!!

    Bill Fay

    12th June 2013

  25. I’m sorry, I seem to have interrupted a discussion, I thought the subject was Costs Draftsmen and Costs Budgeting.
    Incidentally, ANON 12.08pm, clearly you shouldn’t be preparing costs budgets!!

    Anonymous

    12th June 2013

  26. Clearly Anonymous 10.00 pm, you are better at predicting the future than anyone else. The simple fact is that any sensible client will not use a costs lawyer or draftsman when as time goes by they will learn that they can make their own guesses and tap their own figures into a spreadsheet. Long term – there is no market for costs people in this.

    ANON

    13th June 2013

  27. Having been instructed to deal with 4 budgets over the last few weeks, it is clear that long term there is no market for costs people. Once solicitors get used to the process they will simply delegate the work to junior members of staff. Who honestly believes that an experienced litigator will leave the issue of his costs in the hands of someone who has no experience whatsoever of running a complex case to trial? In any event, the work is tiresome, it takes little skill and is just guess work…I for one do not want to be involved in it long term!

    The notion that costs budgeting is the saviour of costs is a myth dreamt up by cost lawyers/draftsman to justify our existence in the knowledge that fixed costs is going to affect the vast majority of us over the next 12/18 months.

    Skiiled cost lawyers/draftsman (believe it or not there are a few) will continue to thrive doing what they do best which is drafting and/or challenging bills. Leave the guesswork to the Solicitors and just hope that they continue to use you at the conclusion of the case.

    A Non

    13th June 2013

  28. A Non

    You are being too optimistic. I, like yourself and no doubt most of the people on here, have dealt with thousands of cases.

    My lawyer clients only have a handful of cases at any one time.

    Therefore we have much more experience than them. The way this process works best is having a ”conference” with the conducting fee earner.

    In that conference you would be surprised at how many are lacking at what might happen, what it might entail, and all the intricacies that come with it.

    There will also be an element of ‘blame culture’ – we all know how solicitors like to run a shoddy case, pass it to costings and then blame costings for their own inadequacies!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    13th June 2013

  29. Truly Eminent Costs Professional is back – yippee !

    Anon

    13th June 2013

  30. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    I agree entirely regarding the conferences as its the only way that the budget can be dealt given the input required from the Lawyers. However, at each of these conferences I have had so far the Lawyer has suggested to me that they need to see how the Court and/or Opponents deal with the process and once this settles down the exercise will become a lot clearer. Therefore I am convinced that once our Lawyer Clients gain the knowledge they will no longer require our services. Why pay us to input figures into a spreadsheet when they can use a Paralegal within the firm and charge their own Client for the service.

    As for ‘blame culture’ I presume your PI insurer is aware of the differences in getting a draft bill wrong (which is to be signed by your Lawyer Client as accurate in any event) and the ramifications of you preparing an incorrect budget?

    A Non

    13th June 2013

  31. For those of us that still prepare public funding bills as well, though the hourly rates are a lot less, the experience of preparing high cost case plans, where at times have to quantify the unquantifiable, will involve the same process as preparing cost budgets, so there is some experience out there of the issues involved.

    Jackson

    13th June 2013

  32. Jackson

    Quite so. I work in-house and fee earners are reluctant to dirty their hands in anything costs related.

    My firm only had a few high cost legal aid cases and I found the easiest way to ensure these were submitted on time was sit the fee earner down, ask them what directions remain extant, ask what the intended trajectory of proceedings is and make suggestions for contingencies. Then I would go off, prepare the revised plan, send it to the LSC for approval.

    The line of least resistance favours all..

    Charles Wheatcroft

    13th June 2013

  33. Im not sure i agree it will become more clearer, as in general (apart from very low end stuff) litigation is a very unpredictable beast.

    What will become clearer in due course is how much substantive lawyers needs costs professionals esp in light of recent law on the subject!

    ACL who are they

    13th June 2013

  34. I am struggling to understand the point of costs budgeting. If anyone has actually read the Jackson report and knows what budgeting was supposed to achieve please can you let know.

    As far as I can see (i)it won’t reduce costs (ii) it is impossible to know if the costs are prportionate at the time the first costs budget is prepared, (iii) court resoursces used on costs in far more cases (without getting a big fat DA fee) and (iv)the money spinner for the Court Service that was non-recoverable DA fees goes out the window in a lot of cases

    A slip in the new rules suggesting allocation fee no longer payable would have cost have the gov £130K per day (it was unsurprisingly sorted out within a few days). I wonder how much the gov will lose in all the outrageously high DA fees that will no longer be paid because someone’s guess at future costs has been approved?

    Trev

    16th June 2013

  35. I’m just about to make the change from being a criminal lawyer to training as a costs lawyer in house with a costs firm. Have I done the right thing? I must say that Criminal practise is absolutely on its knees with LASPO and price competitive tendering coming in this Autumn. Criminal Firms are expected to go from 1600 to just 400 nationwide. I really hope i’ve done the right thing by leaving criminal practise but reading the comments above is worrying me :(((

    Hannah

    17th June 2013

  36. @ Hannah – that is the 1 million dollar question.

    What is certain is that you should be able to easily make more money in costs (for at least the next 2-3 years)than you would have done in criminal law.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    17th June 2013

  37. Thanks TECP – i was working as a government lawyer in crime, and though people may think its “cushty”, i’m glad i left (as many have done). It had become unbearable! Plus the longer i stayed doing that, the least employable I was becoming as Criminal Practise has very few transferrable skills!

    Hannah

    17th June 2013

  38. Hannah – what’s been happening in Crime recently to make it so bad? I haven’t kept up to date with the Criminal side of things; it’d be interesting to hear what changes are being made and the effect they are having!

    Richard

    18th June 2013

  39. Hi Richard,

    In criminal defence practise, price competitive tendering is kicking in i.e. the lowest law firm bidder for a contract to supply legal services under legal aid gets the contract! This means companies like Eddie Stobart (yes, stobart!), G4S etc are offering low bids and churning out robotic lawyers who will be process driven rather than client care driven. It is the end of justice and a very sad reality for this Country that has a fantastic criminal justice system. From my experience of being in Court 50% of the week over the past 8 years as both prosecutor and defence I can say that levels of cases coming through the system have dropped (perhaps more out of court disposals such as police cautions etc). The whole knock on effect of all of this is less work and less lawyers – both defence and prosecution in the long term. Criminal lawyers dont earn anywhere near the same amount as civil / commercial practitioners, and many who go into it do so for altruistic reasons. I felt i needed to get out before I became too unemployable and i’d also reached the end of any career development!!!

    Hannah

    19th June 2013

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