Legal Cost Specialists

Inflated legal costs claims

At the recent Association of Costs Lawyers’ Annual Conference a survey was undertaken of delegates. This included a question as to how many members had experienced unqualified costs draftsmen inflating their bills. There was no corresponding question as to how many had experienced qualified, and regulated, Costs Lawyers inflating their bills, nor, for that matter, how many had experienced qualified and regulated solicitors inflating their bills.


23 thoughts on “Inflated legal costs claims”

  1. What is the definition of an “inflated bill”?

    Vitually all bills that I prepare contain work that I would not expect to be allowed on detailed assessment. I do not include work that is clearly not allowable – ie relating to funding – but otherwise it is not up to me to assess the costs.

    Or are we talking about claiming work that was not done, in order to make the bill higher?

  2. Truly Elephant Costs Professional

    I’m not entirely sure I’ve seen a bill which hasn’t been inflated in one way or another.

    Couple that with stories of fee earners walking into a partner’s office at a large national practice and being told to “increase by 15%” might lead one to become a bit of a sceptic.

    It’s also getting a bit tiresome hearing of how the ACL are targetting unqualified costs draftsman… again. This is going to be another one of those threads isn’t it?

  3. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    I dont think costs lawyers should lower themselves by accepting instructions from personal injury firms which expext you to claim everything, and recover over wip in real terms (which is pretty much all firms).

    After all, they have alot to lose with their god given right to conduct costs litigation, and their sacred rights of audience!

  4. WIP is very rarely correctly calculated in any event. Usually higher than the rate the fee earner is entitled to. Most time costing systems dont recognise the Indemnity Principal or the rate for the job position!

    I have never claimed costs i dont have a good argument for! that is the test for me. Dont claim anything you cant argue on Assessment! I certainly wont inflate costs even if my client asks me to! Infact if any client asks me to then i let the client go elswhere.

  5. Can someone tell me what Costs Lawyers were called before they created the title ” Costs Lawyer” – discuss?????

  6. I had to chuckle at receiving bills recently where the total claimed just crept over the £75,000.00 limit which would have imposed a cap on DA costs.

    I don’t think I’ll ever receive a bill again which is between £72-£75K.

  7. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    @ Anonymous on June 25th, 2013 10:21 am

    Please send your clients my way!! Not that i need the work, but i can always farm it out to unregulated and overworked employees in china!

  8. Every now and again during telephone discussions I have had my opponent state that costs have been inflated.

    I have started to respond by asking whether that person is alleging fraud. The discussion seems to quickly to move on!

  9. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    @ ACL student.

    If your bills are inflated, your attitude will surely change when you qualify and reach the esteemed position of costs lawyer.

    You will magically transform into an accountable, fountain of all knowledge expert on legal costs with more moral fibre and professional integrity than you can shake a stick at.

  10. Would I get sued if I named a firm of solicitors that do their own bill drafting and usually include in their bills more than double the amount of work that was actually done?

  11. For goodness sake, get off your Defendant high horse

    I have seen some abortions of Defendant Bills. Accept that there are good and bad on both sides

    Sweeping statements add nothing

  12. Simon – we know what message you were trying to convey.

    Plus fact remains that the vast majority of Bills are claimant and so it speaks for itself

  13. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    There is a big difference between creative vs. fraudulent, and I personally fall into the former.

    I have to say though, I have previously worked for a big pi firm who held me on p.a.y.e and it was extremely difficult in that position to say no.

    This was the reason I left the firm.

  14. This has nothing to do with Costs Lawyers v Costs Draftsmen – most costs firms have a mix of both Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers, both of which largely do as they are told by the people that pay them.

    It is due to the way that a firm may do things and/or the mentality of their clients. Some firms encourage such creativity.

    I’m thankful that I don’t work for one of said firms and like to think that my Bills are done ‘properly’.

  15. Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    It is a very subjective beast to claim that your bill is drawn ”properly”.

    Most of the firms that i work for do not prepare attendance notes, and so it is up to my discretion what I will claim.

    Then again, some firms do a silly amount of time recording, and as is the industry wide policy, this time should be claimed (even if it is duplicated, due to an obscenely vexatious client etc etc etc).

    You will not fare well if you tell your client that they are being fraudulent, and even the slightest hint of this will see you banished for all eternity.

  16. Charles Wheatcroft

    I recall drafting a PI will some years ago for a low value claim. The bill was around £2300 and I drew the bill completely straight as I continue to do.

    The ‘costs negotiator’ offered one third of the amount with a standard clause letter objecting to the words, numbers and the font used.

    Not used to dealing with PI claims I was furious and sent a response objecting to their standard clause letter.

    To cut a long story short I telephoned and said that I could reduce to £2100 on a commercial basis. The response was “that’s not good, I won’t get receive anything for reducing it by such a small amount”.

    Had I drew the bill for £3000, I would have got the £2300, the costs negotiator would had a slice of cash for the ‘saving’, my boss would be happy for making a ‘full recovery’ and the insurer would be happy due to the ‘saving’.

    I haven’t touched PI work since as it doesn’t sit well with my conscience.

    So, what came first Claimants with the overcharging or Defendants with the unreasonable offers? Discuss..

  17. @CW the historical answer, is the defendant cost negotiator came first, propogated by “certain” well known names (no longer in the inductry, having made their cash and scarpered) whom pioneered the “payment for %age reduction” model so loved by Insurers for their spreadsheet figures.

    Be honest, how many of us, presenting a bill to Defendants and learning which cost negotiator it was being assigned to, didnt already know what their first AND second offers were going to be, because their percentage reductions model was so predictable! I had so much fun waiting for them to call, let them do their rehersed speil, then interupting them and telling them the figure they had written down in front of them before they told me 🙂

    This then led to the claimant culture of inflating the bills to compensate for what known percentage was going to be lost, having some really adverse results reported (“Ramsey -v- Instore PLC” anyone??), thus propogating the Defendants hype. It is truly saddening, that the ACL appear to now adopt that propaganda with its comments clearly directed at anyone whom is not a Costs Lawyer. These are the sort, whom were first off the Titanic

    And in the meantime, the real draftsmen, many of whom contribute to this blog, were caught in the crossfire, by having perfectly reasonable bills subjest to the same nonsensical percentage reduction drivel.

  18. CW – the way i see it is simple. Whether I’m doing claimant or defendant, I advice my client as to amount I think likely to be allowed on assessment. I don’t care if it’s 90% of the bill or 40% of the bill. If the other side’s offer is too high/low, we go to assessment. What’s the % reduction got to do with anything?

  19. ACL top brass should keep asking these ridiculous questions simply with the aim of attacking costs draftsmen. It will then continue to highlight how thoroughly self serving and hollow an organisation you really are. You completely let down your members by failing to provide any decent training for Jackson reforms and you have become somewhat of a joke in the legal profession generally. When will you learn that it would be far better to embrace all in the costs profession. These are difficult times and we need strength in numbers not constant barracking of those who are not in your club so you can steal their work.

  20. I do assessments for one firm where one of their external COST LAWYERS always seems to add the timed communcaitons in documents to the routine communicaiotns. Never gets passed me but then I am a F.CILEx

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