The defendant costs specialists

costs draftsmen

Careful now

By on Apr 12, 2019 | 0 comments

The Civil Litigation Brief blog contained an interesting post about the dangers of lawyers working on the move and being overheard discussing confidential client matters or allowing confidential information to be read over their shoulders or leaving legal papers behind. The costs profession is not immune.  Of the various examples given on Twitter: “Absolutely correct. I once called to collect some files from a cost draftsman’s office. Manager greets me and says he’ll just get the files …. from his car. I almost had an apoplectic fit!” – Donna Beckett‏@BeckettandCo “I once received a call from a bouncer of a London pub. Our cost draftsman had left one of our files there. Apparently it was a con with Counsel!” – Peter...

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Just Costs gone (again)

By on Feb 1, 2019 | 4 comments

There exists something of a disconnect between how busy costs practitioners tend to tell you they are and what the market would suggest. Certainly, most costs lawyers and costs draftsmen would have you believe they are very busy and business is booming.  Sadly, the visible evidence suggests everything is not quite so rosy. Just Costs has just gone into administration (effectively for the second time).  This is reported to have led to 26 redundancies.  But to put this into context: 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. In October 2017, when they emerged from their previous administration, via a CVA, it was announced that this would save 46 jobs. A few weeks ago it was reported they had 33 staff. Legal Futures reported Nick McDonnell, a director at costs firm Kain Knight – and a director of the original Just Costs for two years to April 2017 – as commenting: “The changes to the legal costs industry continue to hit some costs firms very hard.  The issue isn’t so much attracting work but, particularly in the personal injury sector, there is an expectation to offer deferred payment terms. This can mean deferring payment on costs management and budgeting work, for example, for up to 12 months.  This significantly affects a firm’s cash flow and the administration of Just Costs Solicitors is the latest example of this.” Long established costs drafting firm Neat Legal Services went into administration in 2018. Cost Advocates was another casualty, ceasing to exist in 2017. There have been numerous other job losses, redundancies, department closures, office closures and (probably) forced mergers over the last few years. One of the online comments posted below the Law Society Gazette news report on this stated: “What you are basically seeing is the larger, badly run firms falling by the way side. Big is not beautiful any more and Just Costs was always a bad business model anyway. They will not be the last multi-office firm to go under this year. I am in the game and I hear rumours all of the time about other firms. This all started as...

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Unlawful service by unregulated person

By on Jan 16, 2019 | 1 comment

In Ndole Assets Ltd v Designer M&E Services UK Ltd [2018] EWCA Civ 2865 the Court of Appeal was faced with the issue: “Is service of a claim form a reserved legal activity for the purposes of the Legal Services Act 2007 (the 2007 Act)? And if it is, does service of a claim form where carried out by a person who is not an authorised or exempt person for the purposes of the 2007 Act have the consequence that service is invalid and that the claim should be struck out?” On the facts of the case, CSD, referred to as “claims consultants”, purported to serve a claim form on behalf of a litigant in person.  It was not in dispute that CSD were not solicitors and were not authorised for the purposes of the 2007 Act to conduct litigation. Schedule 2 of the 2007 Act defines “conduct of litigation” as: “(a) the issuing of proceedings before any court in England and Wales, (b) the commencement, prosecution and defence of such proceedings, and (c) the performance of any ancillary functions in relation to such proceedings (such as entering appearances to actions).” The Court concluded that: “that service of the claim form was within the ambit of ‘conduct of litigation’. … I consider that service of the claim form is indeed an aspect of ‘prosecution… of such proceedings’ and at all events that service of the claim form is ‘an ancillary function in relation to such proceedings’.  As stated by the Court of Appeal in paragraph 56 of Agassi, it must have been intended that ‘ancillary functions’ would be formal steps required in the conduct of litigation. Service of the claim form is unquestionably, in my opinion, of such a kind. There are rules of court relating to it. A legal action cannot be progressed, cannot be prosecuted, unless and until the claim form is properly served, as the judge had noted. Service is the essential means by which a defendant is notified of the content of the court process which has been initiated against him and in respect of which he is ordinarily required to acknowledge service. Thus service of the claim form falls within the ambit of the statutory language,...

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Year of the Law Costs Draftsman

By on Jan 2, 2013 | 11 comments

Law costs draftsmen, costs lawyers and others working in the field of legal costs are set to have a great 2013. This may sound counterintuitive given the Jackson costs reforms are being introduced this year but it is worth considering the facts. Costs budgeting is set to be introduced in April. Overall this is bad news for costs practitioners. Costs budgeting produces a small amount of frontloading of costs work (preparing budgets and seeking the courts’ approval) which is more than offset by the loss of work at the end of the claim (drafting bills, points of dispute and replies, negotiating costs and attending detailed assessment hearings). However, given the life cycle of a typical claim, 2013 is likely to produce the additional work generated by costs budgeting without practitioners experiencing the corresponding loss of work at the end of a claim. Claims subject to costs budgeting are unlikely to settle this year. Inter partes recoverability of success fees and ATE premiums is due to end in April. This is almost certainly likely to reduce the number of costs dispute. However, the change will not be retrospective and it is unlikely that the negative impact on cost work will therefore be felt this year. Again, the vast majority of claims where this is likely to be relevant will simply not have settled. The extension of the RTA portal will have a dramatic impact on work volumes. But the news that implementation will not happen in April will again mean that the impact of this change will not be felt in 2013. The really noteworthy factor to consider is the number of substantive claims that are likely to settle this year. Whereas claimants solicitors immediately see the additional work generated by new claims, those working in costs traditionally have to wait until the conclusion of a matter for it to produce any cost work. Recent years have seen an ever increasing number of new claims being brought. 2013 should see these figures translating into additional costs work. This combination of factors should see a boom in 2013 for those working in legal costs. 2014 will be...

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Association of Costs Lawyers' website

By on Jul 25, 2012 | 0 comments

The Association of Costs Lawyers new website (www.associationofcostslawyers.co.uk) is well worth a visit for those who have not yet seen it (and not simply to see a video presentation by Chairman Iain Stark – as if that weren’t enough) but also to see the sample copies of the excellent Costs Lawyer magazine. Although this is one of the great perks of ACL membership, it is surely only a question of time before this publication is made available for purchase by non-Costs...

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Costs Lawyer qualifications

By on Jul 9, 2012 | 4 comments

I note a recruitment advertisement in Costs Lawyer magazine from Practico seeking senior costs lawyers who have “Costs Lawyer or higher professional qualifications”. Anyone fancy providing a hierarchy of legal qualifications?

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