Legal Cost Specialists

A modest proposal

I have a modest proposal.

When serving fee notes and invoices for disbursements in support of a bill of costs, order these in the same order as they appear in the bill. Secondly, given all items in a bill should be numbered, write the number of the item on the top corner of the invoice or by the corresponding entry in the fee note (if counsel’s fee note includes various items).

This is a simple matter of courtesy to your opponent and will avoid the costs judge going ballistic at you when he loses patience trying to locate the correct invoice/fee note in a disordered bundle.

10 thoughts on “A modest proposal”

  1. Totally agree it is not Rocket Science and should be common place to clearly mark the disbursement fee notes – I say this having myself been very grumpy, having developed a severe headache sorting through an unmarked set of such notes on a £300k Bill recently – being pedantic on cross referencing paid off as I was able to raise an immediate £11k reduction on disbursements alone given direct duplication of fee notes ie they were included on the date of the invoice and also a year or so later when they were actually paid! Though of course some referred to vat and some didn’t so even the figures varied – but of course none ofthe feenotes were marked adn included 3/4 chasers for payments so even identifying the actual original invoice took awhile! joy!

  2. Simple matters of courtesy to your opponent go both ways though Simon – I’m sure there are plenty of receiving party orientated draftmen out there with similar gripes.

    This “if it’s not in the rules then i wont bother” attitude works both ways

  3. My gripe is PODs that don’t make reference to the item number in the Bill. I just sat through a very painful assessment because of this. Still, I won.

  4. I wouldn’t have thought it possible to lose at a hearing just because item numbers were not referred to

  5. Who said it would? It would simply prevent the costs judge losing patience, as mentioned in the initial blog.

  6. You did “Still, I won” kind of implies that despite the Bill not having item numbers, you were able to win

  7. Rachel Wallace

    Frankly, the process of ordering and itemising the disbursement vouchers should be part of the checking process so generously charged for in the bills. Having to ask in PoDs which fee note relates to which item is tedious, and it is worse when neither the bill of costs nor the fee note indicates which expert it relates to, nor the date of the report in question.

    On a different matter, why doesn’t the SCCO issue refunds or partial refunds of DA hearing request fees when matters settle >28 days before the hearing?

  8. Because the refund only applies to ‘Fast Track, Multi Track or Non-Money Claim hearings’ according to the EX50.

  9. Rachel Wallace

    I realise that, but it strikes me as odd that courts take the substantial DA hearing request fees (which are equivalent in my view to trial listing fees) and yet there is no equivalent refund where costs cases settle well in advance of the hearing. In reality, the case is not looked at in any detail by a judge until a couple of days before if you’re lucky.

    I suspect it is simply the case that nobody has thought about it. I spoke to the SCCO and they said nobody had even asked before. Time for a rule change, in the interests of promoting costs matters settling in advance of assessment?

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