The defendant costs specialists

Posts by Simon Gibbs

Changes to Costs Lawyer training

By on Nov 2, 2017 | 13 comments

In light of the problems facing ACL Training, I commented that: “It seems unlikely it can possibly continue in its current form”. Unsurprisingly, the CLSB has now announced that it is to suspend any further intake onto the current three year Costs Lawyer qualification. The CLSB “will now focus on other means of entry into the profession e.g. Costs Lawyer competence test, apprenticeship, thus assuring standards expected of a regulated profession are...

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More horror stories

By on Oct 31, 2017 | 1 comment

The negative impact of the Jackson reforms continues apace. Virtually simultaneous to the news about Just Costs, is the announcement that defendant costs firm Cost Advocates is to close at the end of the year. As an example of the rise and fall of the costs industry, Cost Advocates’ story is, perhaps, even more dramatic than that of Just Costs. Cost Advocates (then Cost Auditing) was purchased by outsourcing giant Capita in 2002 for an initial consideration of £4.9m in cash with additional deferred payments of potentially another...

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Jackson strikes again

By on Oct 30, 2017 | 1 comment

The inevitable post-Jackson shake down continues to make itself felt across the industry. Back in December 2016, costs firm Just Costs Ltd entered into a company voluntary arrangement (CVA) due to significant debts including owing £781,758 to HM Revenue & Customs. In a statement at the time, the firm said: ‘The business has traded profitably every year since our inception in 2006. We continue to do so and our forecasts moving forward show continued profitability. We continue to have the total support of our bank and funders. …  We will be meeting our liabilities in full. … We are dealing with work of an ever-increasing value and complexity. It is business as usual.’ Presumably matters did not go quite as smoothly as anticipated as Just Costs Ltd has just folded, only to be reborn as Just Costs Solicitors Ltd by means of a pre-pack administration deal. Back in December 2016, it was explained that Just Costs had “consolidated” from four to two offices and reduced its headcount from 110 to 70. The latest statement, explaining the CVA, states that it has saved 46 jobs. It is clearly a good thing that so many jobs have been saved but 46 must be viewed as against 70 less than a year ago and 110 before that. It must not be overlooked that these job losses have come about following just the first wave of the Jackson reforms, with the negative impact being felt largely in the fast-track arena.  The next wave of reforms has yet to...

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Guide about Costs and Legal Aid

By on Oct 25, 2017 | 1 comment

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has an online guide about Costs and Legal Aid for members of the public. In relation to Conditional Fee Agreements, it states: “your lawyer will only get paid if the case is successful. If you lose your claim, your lawyer does not get paid”. Am I alone in being concerned that the SRA appears to be unaware of discounted CFAs? It then lists a number of bullet points as to what happens where a claim is run under a CFA and the claim is successful.  The first of these is: “you receive 100% of any compensation awarded” Where does this come from?  There has never been a statutory or regulatory requirement that claimants keep 100% of their damages.  True, in the past there were many firms of solicitors that made such a promise; but this was not an inherent element of a CFA.  Post-Jackson, this is now relatively uncommon. Further bullet points state: “the ‘success fee’ can be up to 100% of your lawyer’s costs, however in personal injury cases, this is limited to 25% of the damages awarded (excluding any damages for future care and loss), the losing side will have to pay your lawyer’s costs and any expenses that you may be liableto pay as part of your legal costs, you will however have to pay the success fee to your lawyer. It is therefore very important that your lawyer properly informs you at the very beginning of the success fee that will be payable if you win your case.” Remember, this guide is for members of the public.  How are they meant to interpret the contradictory statements that they will get to keep 100% of their damages but, in personal injury cases, may have to pay a success fee of up to 25% of their damages. It is also fairly obvious that the SRA is unfamiliar with the concept of solicitor/own client costs. If a solicitor produced a client care letter with so many misleading statements, they would rightly be hauled over the coals. And this was produced by the body which is meant to police...

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What has the Association of Costs Lawyers ever done for us?

By on Oct 24, 2017 | 0 comments

Last week’s annual ACL Conference saw speakers include: Lord Justice Jackson Senior Costs Judge Master Gordon-Saker Costs Judge Master James Master McCloud Regional Costs Judge Besford Regional Costs Judge Lethem Regional Costs Judge Lumb Regional Costs Judge Middleton Nicholas Bacon QC Simon Browne QC PJ Kirby QC Andrew Post QC Vikram Sachdeva QC Dr Mark Friston Professor Dominic Regan There are clearly some outsiders who believe the ACL is getting something right. Two of the Regional Costs Judges present told me they had taken Friday as annual leave so they could attend the conference.  This suggests a number of possible things: The ACL Annual Conference is THE legal event of the year. The ACL Annual Conference is THE social event of the year. Some judges need to get out more. (To be fair, this conference is not so much the highlight of my social calendar, rather the only...

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