The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in December, 2014

Christmas Costs Cocktail

By on Dec 22, 2014 | 0 comments

Everybody likes mulled wine at Christmas. However, if you’ve just come in from a long walk in the cold, having passed a brass monkey crying his little eyes out, it can be a bit of a kerfuffle to start messing around with cinnamon sticks, grated nutmeg, etc when you just want a quick warming drink. Fortunately, you can buy mulling syrup. This just needs adding to some red wine in a saucepan (and an optional dash of Cointreau, brandy, etc), warm gently (DO NOT BOIL), and job done. Lakeland sell a very nice Gourmet Mulling Syrup, although others are available on Amazon. Mulling syrup is the special ingredient for my own little concoction the Christmas Costs Cocktail. Take two measures of vodka (or gin), one measure of sweet vermouth and half a measure of mulling syrup. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass. Drink. Repeat as...

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Regulating the legal professions

By on Dec 19, 2014 | 2 comments

Nicholas Lavender QC, the chairman of the Bar Council, recently criticised the concept of entity-based regulation and suggested it was “simply a fashionable idea amongst regulators”. The Costs Lawyer Standards Board is currently investigating entity regulation for law costs firms. Entity regulation may well be the solution but I have yet to hear clearly identified the problem which it is meant to solve. In the brave new world, I thought regulation was meant to be evidence based. In the absence of evidence of a meaningful problem, leave well alone. On the subject of regulation, the LSB, being responsible for overall regulation of the legal professions, has been looking at the cost of legal regulation. Despite being responsible for the issue, they clearly do not know whether, and why, the costs of regulation might be too high. They therefore sent out a survey asking for lawyers to give their feedback. At the conclusion of the survey, the LSB asked whether I would be willing to participate in follow-up research. The LSB, obviously not feeling able to investigate this difficult issue themselves, instructed, at no doubt significant cost, a third party, to undertake this work. I recently received the following email: “The Legal Service Board (“LSB”) recently conducted an online survey gathering a wide range of views on the cost of regulation for legal services providers in England and Wales. Following that survey, the LSB has commissioned the economic consultancy and research firm ICF Consulting Services (“ICF”) to complete an independent detailed study of the costs of regulation to those providing legal services. ICF is contacting you because you expressed an interest in participating in this follow-up research when you responded to the LSB online survey. ICF and LSB would be grateful for your cooperation and we hope that you will be able to assist us in this research. We aim for the study to be as representative as possible across the diverse range of legal services providers. Your participation in the study will help to achieve that. We will be distributing a questionnaire on costs in January, followed by a short telephone interview to guide you through these questions in January or early February. The study is part of a...

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Slip of the tongue

By on Dec 18, 2014 | 0 comments

Some of the more interesting reading in court judgments comes in the exchanges with the judge that sometimes end up being included in the transcript after the formal judgment has been given. I mentioned the case of Connor v Birmingham City Council the other day and the following extract comes from the transcript to that case: MR SINGLETON: Your Honour, can I make my usual application at the conclusion of a hearing before your Honour, that my name be amended to Singleton? JUDGE HAMILTON: I am sorry, have I done it again? I am sorry. I have done it before. MR SINGLETON: I know exactly how it arises, one becomes convinced in one’s own mind and it sticks there. JUDGE HAMILTON: Yes, once you have done it. I am sorry, I do apologise though Mr Singleton. MR SINGLETON: But that aside and onto matters of real moment… JUDGE HAMILTON: Do you know I thought about it at the time when I was saying it. I thought this is not quite right, but I could not think what was right. MR SINGLETON: Well, your Honour has avoided a mistake that one of your judicial brethren made which was to refer to me as Mr Simpleton. I wasn’t sure whether it formed part of the judgement or was merely an...

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Relief from sanctions applications

By on Dec 17, 2014 | 0 comments

Carrying on with my tidy up, I came across a copy of the judgment of His Honour Judge Hamilton in Connor v Birmingham City Council (16 March 2005). This concerned a case where a claimant had given notice that a claim was being funded by way of CFA in pre-proceedings correspondence but no notice, as required by the rules, was provided when proceeding were issued. No application for relief from sanctions was made before the detailed assessment and this was only sought orally at the hearing. The District Judge, as first instance, refused relief and disallowed the success fee. His Honour Judge Hamilton dismissed the appeal with the following words: “It seems to me these are rules to be followed and if a judge decides that they must be followed, no criticism can be made of him for so deciding.” With hindsight, it seems amazing that there used to be judges with such unenlightened views. However, this was a decision made under the old strict approach to relief from sanctions. When Lord Justice Jackson undertook his major review he concluded that expecting parties and their solicitors to follow rules and court orders was generating unnecessary extra work for them and this led to disproportionate costs being incurred. Solicitors should be allowed to do what they wanted, when they wanted. A new relief from sanctions rule was required that would encourage a culture of non-compliance. This approach was warmly endorsed by the senior judiciary in the run-up to implementation of the Jackson reforms with a number of high profile talks being given explaining that nobody likes goody two-shoes solicitors who slavishly follow the rules and court orders and then snitch to the court if their opponent does not do likewise in a cynical attempt to gain a windfall for their client. In future, those asking the courts to enforce the rules could expect to be slapped with adverse costs orders. The Court of Appeal duly followed this new approach to relief from sanctions in the entirely consistent decisions of Henry, Mitchell and Denton (despite some troublemakers suggesting there might be some mixed signals being given out). I think I’ve fairly summarised how we’ve got to where we currently are, although...

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Callery v Gray revisited

By on Dec 16, 2014 | 2 comments

I’ve been having a bit of a tidy up and came across a copy of the original appeal judgment in Chester County Court in Callery v Gray. The Callery v Gray litigation was ultimately viewed as a large success for claimants generally and Amelans solicitors in particular, the Claimant’s solicitors in that case. It was therefore interesting to reread the comments of His Honour Judge Edwards: “In this particular case I note that the District Judge has slashed in half the basic costs figure, and I do not understand that that is being contested. I think, therefore, that in this particular case as to the basic costs figure the claimant’s solicitors must ask themselves whether what they were putting forward was in truth reasonable and proportionate for a case like this.” Only in the crazy world of costs would this case be notched up as a success for the Claimant’s...

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