Legal Cost Specialists

Provisional assessment pilot

A reader recently contacted me to ask whether I had any information on how the provisional assessment pilot scheme is working in practice, what is generally being allowed to claimants, and what people’s general experiences have been.

I must confess, to date I have not had a single case fall within the scheme. Perhaps claimants are steering well clear of the courts where the pilot applies.

So, the best I can do is ask other readers to share their thoughts here. For once, I will entirely understand if these are anonymous.

11 thoughts on “Provisional assessment pilot”

  1. My only experience was not good. The Judge got it wrong, as he did not take into account our reference to CPD 32.3 (d) and disallowed a number of disbursements because no written evidence was attached. They were not counsel or expert fees. The loss of these disbursements was detrimental to the assessment costs position, although the figures were not great enough to exceed the 20% margin for costs recovery at an oral hearing.

  2. My experience was not good either. The outcome was not what you would have had at an oral hearing. I work at a Leeds firm and I issue my claims elsewhere because the results are even more unpredictable than oral hearings.

  3. My expierence is positive and have issued 44.12A Part proceedings in Leeds. I would welcome the scheme going out nationwide

  4. The following received from a reader:

    “I have only had one file go to provisional assessment and I must admit, it was a complete farce!

    The matter was proceeding Leeds County Court. I acted for the Defendant and was unable to agree costs with the Claimant’s costs draftsman. They requested that the matter be provisionally assessed. Despite the request being made in August 2011, it was not provisionally assessed on paper until January 2012.

    Unfortunately, when the Judge had marked his comments on the bill, he had failed to add up his figures and it was therefore left to the parties to agree a figure between them. The bill had been drafted showing a breakdown of all time claimed between the parties. At the end of each of the requisite parts, a total had then been provided. The bill was split into many parts to take into account the varying rates of VAT.

    The Claimant believed that the Judge had mistakenly thought that the total given at the end of each Part was being claimed in addition to the work described in the breakdown. In short, they believe the Judge was doubling the time claimed and therefore the parties were some £5,000 apart in their figures in respect of the assessed bill. (Based on my figures, I had beaten my offer whereas based on their figures, I had failed to beat my offer).

    For several months we sought to agree a figure with the Claimant’s representative advising that their explanation did not make sense and that the Court would be required to provide a total figure.

    Nothing happened so I wrote to the Court with a copy of my calculations on the bill and asked that the matter be referred back to the Judge and a figure provided.

    At the same time, the Claimant’s costs representative requested an oral hearing. (Not within the time scale provided in the CPR).

    The matter was then eventually listed for an oral hearing and heard in August 2012, some 12 months after the provisional assessment was requested.

    I am pleased to advise I beat my offer and was awarded costs of the assessment procedure too but must admit the whole experience was painful and far more time consuming that the normal detailed assessment procedure, particularly due to the fact that DJ Hill does not sit in Leeds regularly and we were therefore waiting around for him to sit in Leeds to review the papers each time either party wrote to the Court on the case.

    A procedure which is supposed to take 6 weeks took 12 months. Need I say more?”

  5. Quite telling that the only positive report comes from someone who is employed by a firm claiming to ‘work with almost all of the world’s leading insurance companies’.

  6. They should centralise the paper assessment to SCCO and just have costs officers churning them out all day every day. It’s not good having judges that don’t have the hours in the day or in depth cost knowledge dealing with something on the papers.

  7. The long dealy from Simon’s reader is due to over complicatin gthe Bill and someone not getting their figures right. If you kow it is on paper you adjust your arguments accordingly. If as in my case your replies say the RP will refer to their file of papers at the hearing what do youm expect.

    It cannot be a cut and paste job for either party.

    You have to help the Judge but I might not be so keen if it is expanded as all mine have been dealt with by the RCJs.

    Why not National Costs Officers – there are plenty of people who could spend a few days a month as “deputies”.

  8. Do without the judges altogether and get cheap accountants to do it who will follow proper guidelines and not make it up as they go to suit their own ends.
    I have yet to come accross a dodgy accountant,whereas judges and solicitors thats a whole different story.

  9. I have had a number of experiences in Leeds County Court under the scheme which was implemented by DJ Hill. I represented the defendant in all the cases. The paper assessment scheme is claimant bias and unreasonable. When on considers the rules you will note that irrespective of offers the claimant is awarded their costs of assessment at a paper hearing. One of my cases was appealed successfully and to my knowledge to date is the only case. A grade A was awarded on what was a clear cut grade C case. Stay away from paper assessments as a defendant unless you want burnt fingers

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