The defendant costs specialists

Posts made in October, 2017

Legal costs in property damage claims

By on Oct 6, 2017 | 4 comments

One of the areas of costs I deal with arises from property damage claims; typically following fire, flood or tree root damage. Although these claims are usually pursued in the name of the owner of the damaged property, in reality these are subrogated claimed being brought by the insurer of the property owner and seeking to recover the money they have already paid to the property owner to make good the damage done. Unsurprisingly, the claimants’ insurers tend to instruct the firms of solicitors they already have working relationships with.  Many of these claims are brought with the benefit of conditional fee agreements.  There is often something rather tricksy about this whole process.  These are claims that traditionally would have been resolved between the loss adjusters for the respective insurance companies with no legal costs incurred in the process.  Instructing solicitors from the outset simply adds an unnecessary layer of costs to the process. Nevertheless, given the solicitors instructed are usually insurer panel firms – familiar with the inflated costs claims presented by claimants’ solicitors in personal injury claims – one might hope that they would adopt a more sensible approach when submitting their own costs claims in these property damage claims. If only. In my experience, insurer panel solicitors are often the guiltiest of submitting grossly inflated, and barely plausible, claims for costs in these property damage cases.  I have yet to decide whether this is due to: Deliberate dishonesty having found themselves on the end of a positive costs order and therefore trying to milk the other side for whatever they can get away with; or Evidence of spectacular inefficiency in the handling of relatively routine claims. Either way, it does not seem the ideal way to promote the firms in question.  If I was an insurer faced with these grossly excessive claims for costs from these firms, I would never dream of placing them on my own panel in the future.  I would assume that if they charged me even half as much on a solicitor/own client basis that they would still be overcharging me by at least...

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Guidance on costs budgeting

By on Oct 2, 2017 | 1 comment

Gordon Exall’s Civil Litigation Brief is simultaneously invaluable reading for all civil litigators and an example of what is currently wrong with the law. The advent of the interweb, legal blogs and online resources such as BAILII, produces a continuous stream of new “reported” decisions on a daily basis totally unimaginable even 20 years ago. On an application for relief from sanctions, for example, advocates are rarely content to simply address the court on the wording of the rule and the Mitchell/Denton guidance.  The temptation now is for each party to produce a bundle of authorities on the point with each seeking to apply or distinguish the various decisions to the facts of the current case. The issue of costs budgeting is no exception to the problem of proliferating “authorities”.  Gordon Exall has put together an invaluable list of decisions on the issue of costs budgeting.  Whether this trend should really be encouraged is, perhaps, a moot point.  Nevertheless, in an age where one can virtually guarantee an opponent will seek to produce numerous authorities on any given issue, one must be prepared to fight fire with...

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