Legal Cost Specialists

Costs management the future?

Professor Dominic Regan, writing in the New Law Journal, explained the recommendations he has made following his review for Jackson LJ of the Birmingham Mercantile Court costs management pilot:

“My considered recommendation is that the process be applied to every multi-track action whatever the content. … Fast-track cases will be self policing with the arrival of fixed costs sometime soon.”

So, no role for costs professionals in fast-track matters and multi-track matters become subject to costs management. The court approves or adjusts the parties’ budgets at the outset. If, at the conclusion of the case, a party’s claim for costs comes within budget, will there be an argument about costs or will the figure generally just be accepted? I suspect the latter.

What role for costs professionals?

6 thoughts on “Costs management the future?”

  1. Quite so. The idea that costs professionals will be heavily involved in costs management tasks to offset the loss of other work is an illusion apart from high value commercial work. I have a number of clients who undertake high cost legal aid matters and they all prpeare their own case plans. There is no reason to think they will not also prepare their own costs budgets.

  2. First of all can I just say that this is meant a bit tongue-in-cheek, but is this not what Defendant-only costs professionals such as Mr Gibbs have long been arguing? Just a quick flick through the archived posts on this blog alone show the long standing opposition to what has become perceived to be greedy claimant solicitors’ costs. This school of thought has been going on for years. Well, now the people who matter (the decision makers if you will) are listening, and big changes may be coming in order to deal with this ‘huge costs problem’, which will no doubt have a massive impact on our workloads and so on.

    I am not insinuating that the changes (such as costs management) that have been recommended by LJJ are in any way the fault of commentators such as Mr Gibbs, far from it. I respect Mr Gibbs’ opinions hugely. If the LJJ changes are brought in, and as a result excessive costs claims decrease, and the costs of settling costs disputes all but disappear, then I would suggest that Defendant practitioners have been given pretty much what they asked for i.e. lower Claimant bills.

    I just find it somewhat ironic that there are now comments on this blog recently relating to this prospect of workloads drying up and what will no doubt become a far more competitive costs market for practicing costs professionals and the ‘what are we all going to do’ school of thought. My own opinion is that where one door closes another opens, and I do not feel that things will get as bad for us all, but if the worst does happen, and the majority of us end up having to do something else as a career due to there being no work, perhaps we will look back at the massive costs arguments from a few years ago and think, hey – at least we had work coming through the door. Could we not take some of the blame for that, given that the significant public opinion (of the sort that all claimant solicitors are greedy and charge too much etc) appears to me at least to be a significant reason as to why we are here at this point at all.

  3. Unlike most claimant lawyers, I do not judge the Jackson reforms based on whether they will be healthy for my bank balance.

    My comments on the inevitable massive reductions in work volumes are no more than observations on the reality of the situation, not a judgment on the merits.

  4. I am not a Claimant lawyer, I am a law costs draftsman who works for Defendants and Claimants, and my point is in reference to the workloads for Costs Draftsman, not solicitors. I appreciate that your comments are in reference to the reality of the current situation rather than the merits, as are mine, but my point is to do with the extent to which the notion that claimant solicitors are all greedy good for nothings (as has been built up recently) has or has not influenced where we currently are, i.e. perhaps on the brink of massive changes that may render many of us surplus to requirement.

  5. I am (currently) a Defendant costs draftsman – and not a “costs monkey” as many expect us to be, ive been in the profession 20 years managing costs and attending court.

    From all ive seen and heard, all that will change, is the emphasis on where the arguments are.

    I have already seen the challenges to the RTA portal scheme and the supposedly “unassailable” costs regime which exists – 2 well known Costs Counsel have indeed produced an article condemning and pointing out the many pitfalls and holes in that system

    the proposed new increase to the fixed costs regime to include a wider spectrum of cases, will simply increase the level and technicality of the disputes.

    Do you really think we will go meekly into the night? Did the solicitors profession die when Credit Hire was resolved, or success fees fixed?

    The smart will inherit the earth, not the meek, and i know of many whom will not join the latter!

  6. OK, anon, your remarks are fair to some extent. But we would be deluding ourselves if we did not accept that certain claimant lawyers out there have killed the goose, fished the seas dry, which ever cliche you want to employ.

    For evidence of this that won’t get Simon sued for libel, I suggest you need look no further than the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal discussing the “grotesque” charging practices of a leading claimant PI law firm in Pankhurst v White & MIB [2010] EWCA Civ 1445.

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