The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in June, 2017

Offshoring costs drafting work

By on Jun 30, 2017 | 1 comment

An interesting recent blog post from Kerry Underwood discusses offshoring legal work. He admits to a direct interest in this issue as Underwoods Solicitors offshore some of their work through their South African office and other firms have used this facility. He also suggests: “The same is true in relation to costs lawyers: why is it necessary to prepare a bill of costs here when it could be prepared for a fraction of that cost abroad?” If memory serves me right, a few years ago a costs firm did outsource much of their work to Pakistan.  It did not go well and the firm is no longer trading. Of course, one example of offshoring not working is not evidence the theory is flawed.  However, I believe part of the problem stemmed from the fact that the overseas costs draftsmen did not have access to the full files of papers.  In theory, the relevant papers were meant to be scanned and sent over, but this no doubt proved impractical for larger matters. Therein lies the problem so far as costs work is concerned.  The majority of solicitor firms’ files are still, at least in part, paper based.  Access to all relevant documents is essential to properly prepare a bill of costs.  Unless, and until, firms move over to fully paperless offices it is unlikely outsourcing of costs work will catch on.  By that stage, most cases will be subject to fixed fees in any event and the economies that might be achieved by offshoring volume costs work will no longer be available.  There is likely to be limited demand for offshoring a relatively small number of higher value (and thus more important) costs...

Read More

Latest costs news gossip

By on Jun 29, 2017 | 1 comment

The nice people at 4 New Square invited me to their Summer Party on Tuesday evening.  Although the weather was terrible, they had had the sense to book an indoor venue. In addition to their own embarrassment of riches in terms of their specialist costs counsel, there were also a number of other costs practitioners attending as guests and it gave me the opportunity to catch up on the latest news and gossip from the costs world. In no particular order: Word on the grapevine is that Lord Justice Jackson is likely to recommend next moth that fixed costs are introduced for all claims with a value of up to £100,000, as opposed to his previously mooted figure of £250,000. This may be no more than rumour and we will shortly know for sure. One experienced costs draftsman was of the view that the Jackson reforms to date had led to approximately 50% of independent costs firms closing and job losses in the profession running at a similar level. In September 2014, a record number of almost 200 new students started the Costs Lawyer training course. Current numbers are barely in double figures. One well-informed source estimated that once the full Jackson shake-up has gone through we may be left with around 200 practising Costs Lawyers. Plenty for me to comment on in the coming days, weeks and...

Read More

Costs budgets and detailed assessment

By on Jun 22, 2017 | 0 comments

The Court of Appeal has handed down judgment in the important case of Harrison v University Hospitals Coventry & Warwickshire NHS Trust [2017] EWCA Civ 792 concerning the correct approach to take to detailed assessment where there has been a costs management order made. The facts of the case are irrelevant. The four points of principle that emerge are: · Where a costs management order has been made, in relation to future estimated costs, at detailed assessment the court will not depart upwards or downwards from that approved budget without ‘good reason’. The court declined to provide further guidance on what amounted to ‘good reason’ other than to comment: “Costs judges should therefore be expected not to adopt a lax or over-indulgent approach to the need to find ‘good reason’”. This clearly leaves plenty of scope for argument on detailed assessment. · No such ‘good reason’ is required in relation to incurred costs. Incurred costs are to be the subject of detailed assessment in the usual way, except to the extent to which the court may take into account comments made in relation to incurred costs by the judge when the costs management order was made. · Importantly, the making of a costs management order does not close-off arguments on assessment as to what global figure would be proportionate for the case. This is because “the costs judge ordinarily will still … ultimately have to look at matters in the round and consider whether the resulting aggregate figure is proportionate”. · For the purposes of proportionality and the transitional provisions, a claim is “commenced” when the relevant proceedings are issued by the court, not the date they are sent to the court. This is important for those cases issued around 1 April 2013. Unless the court actually issued the claim form before 1 April 2013, the new proportionality test will apply to post-1 April 2013...

Read More

The truth is out there

By on Jun 19, 2017 | 1 comment

It was a funny old General Election. We witnessed the worst Conservative manifesto in history and watched as the Prime Minister went, in the public eye, from “strong and stable” to “weak and wobbly” in a few short weeks. The Conservative share of the vote duly increased by 5.5% compared to the brilliant and ruthless campaign run by David Cameron at the last election. A highly efficient Labour campaign saw the all-conquering Jeremy Corbyn fall a mere 55 seats behind the disastrous Conservative campaign and achieve a massive 4 seats more than the terrible Labour campaign of Gordon Brown in 2010. The Liberal Democrats ran a no-brainer of a campaign to appeal to the 48% of the population who voted Remain, and duly saw their share of the vote decline by 0.5% compared to their train-crash result in 2015. At a more granular level, Diane Abbott had, what was widely regarded as being, the worst election campaign of an individual British politician in living memory. She was duly returned with a 12.2% increase in support and a massive 75.1% share of the vote in her constituency. (This was before any proper medical explanation was advanced for her shockingly poor media performance.) In politics, perception may well be all. Nevertheless, one does begin to wonder whether voters were partaking in a parallel election to that being observed by most political commentators. Meanwhile, back in the world of law and cold hard facts, Access to Justice tweeted: “We definitively prove that #PIReforms are a huge mistake!” on the basis that research they commissioned apparently shows the government’s personal injury reforms will boost insurers’ profits by up to £700m a year. Virtually simultaneously, the Law Society Gazette published an article highlighting that motor insurers suffered combined losses of £3.5bn last year as a consequence of the changes to the Ogden rate change. In a post-truth world, there is a “fact” out there to satisfy any point of...

Read More