The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in April, 2017

Court hearing fees

By on Apr 6, 2017 | 1 comment

Ever increasing court fees are an issue subject to much commentary. Nevertheless, there are other more subtle ways where the courts are increasing revenue through amendments to the rules concerning fee payment. Previously, hearing fees were refundable on a sliding scale where a case settled pre-trial: 100% if the court was notified more than 28 days before the hearing 75% if the court was notified between 15 and 28 days before the hearing 50% if the court was notified between 7 and 14 days before the hearing From 6 March 2017, the Civil Proceedings Fees (Amendment) Order 2016 changed this and the hearing fee is no longer repayable if a matter settles pre-trial.  On the plus side, the fee is now payable closer to the trial itself, which may reduce the impact of this change.  The new rule does not apply to cases where the court gave notice of a trial date or the start of the trial period before 6 March 2017.  So, pay attention to the relevant dates when considering whether a hearing fee is refundable. Over the years there have been other amendments to increase the overall fees payable.  Again, in relation to hearing fees, the rules previously provided that hearing fees were payable only once in the same proceedings.  This appears to have been dropped from the rules in 2014 and it is therefore sometimes necessary to pay two sets of fees, such as where a matter is subject to a split trial and a second listing questionnaire is required.  From my experience, the courts do not seem to take a particularly consistent approach to this...

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Professional indemnity insurance for costs draftsmen

By on Apr 3, 2017 | 2 comments

I recently had to renew our professional indemnity insurance.  Our brokers sent us a very lengthy document from our insurers even though we were just looking to renew our policy. Amongst the various questions asked was: “What does the Proposer think are the more significant potential risks associated with their field of work”. I completed this section with, what I thought was, the rather obvious: “Providing negligent legal advice”.  I did not consider this to be an admission of a risk particular to our firm but simply a recognition of the self-evident main risk any lawyer faces on a day-to-day basis (at least if you do not handle client money); although missing deadlines is perhaps another one. I was therefore somewhat surprised when our broker returned to us to say the insurer had queried what legal advice we gave as they thought our business was that of costs draftsmen. Even if you turned the clock back 20 years, where much of the day-to-day work of old-school costs draftsmen was counting letters and estimating how many would be recoverable, the latter task still amounted to legal advice just as much as a solicitor advising a client what damages they might expect to recover in a personal injury claim. However, for most of the past 20 years a costs draftsman’s job has involved advising on such issues as compliance with the rules and regulations concerning conditional fee agreements, DAB regulations, consumer credit regulations, relief from sanctions applications, etc. Am I right to be concerned that our insurer is providing professional indemnity insurance for a category of business when they do not seem to know the nature of the work undertaken by such businesses?  And, if that is so, how do they set their...

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