Legal Cost Specialists

Costs Lawyer hourly rates

By on Jun 5, 2013 | 67 comments

At the question and answer sessions at the Association of Costs Lawyers’ Annual Conference there were a number of complaints from the floor as to the tendency of judges to limit Costs Lawyers’ hourly rates to Grade D guideline rates. This was taken as being a great insult to experienced Costs Lawyers of many years’ experience. This issue was raised in the questions to the new Council and the suggestion raised that the ACL should seek to lobby for higher rates.

New Chairman Murray Heining acknowledged that this was something that the Council could look into but suggested caution on the basis that the Association may find itself shooting itself in the foot. Murray is no fool. This chimed in with a chat I had at the conference with another experienced Costs Lawyer. One of his solicitor clients had previously been unhappy with their hourly rates being routinely reduced by the local court and decided to undertake an expense of time calculation in the hope that armed with this information they would be able to persuade the court to allow them higher rates. They undertook the calculation only to discover the rates they were already recovering were probably on the generous side. They sensibly decided to let sleeping dogs lie.

Murray is aware that many Costs Lawyers are “kitchen table” draftsmen with minimal overheads. Indeed, I rather suspect some have virtually non-existent overheads.

I have seen a number of comments on this Blog and on the ACL Forum complaining about the fact the practice directions to CPR 47 are not on the Ministry of Justice website and asking where a copy can be found. It is indeed bizarre that this is missing from the website but the short answer is that a copy can be found in White Book Civil Procedure 2013 Special Supplement that was issued free with the White Book 2013 on publication and appears again in the free updating White Book Civil Procedure 2013 Cumulative Special Supplement (and presumably Green Book equivalent). Of course, the problem for many law costs draftsmen and Costs Lawyers is that they would consider it an unnecessary and wildly extravagant step to purchase a White Book/Green Book and rely on free material on the interweb. These are the same people who turn up to detailed assessment hearings without a copy of the CPR and hope that annoying issues relating to the wording of the rules aren’t raised.

I rather suspect that some of those who complain most about the terrible injustice of having their rates reduced to Grade D are those with overheads a fraction of the “typical” Grade D fee earner.

    67 Comments

  1. I tend to agree with Simon & Murray, but then, isnt the argument that its not a question of individuals, but an average of the profession as a whole, when determining the rates?

    Plus, any DJ whom believes an advocate before him arguing costs principles, often against Counsel, as equivellent of a trainee solicitor, is sadly deluded and needs appealing. Then again, I see this is something CL’s are moaning about, so we are back again to the point about their overinflated self worth because of the title?

    Regarding those whom turn up without the White Book. I consider the comments quite wrong Simon. The rules of this Country are in the Public Domain for a reason, so they are freely accessible and referrable by all. They are not confined to the rich elite whom can afford to pay inflated prices for a bound copy. And, personally, I never go to court with a rule book, because as a good advocate & draftsman, I already know what the CPR says, and can recite rule, PD, protocol and appropriate text accurately to the DJ from memory, because it it the stock in which I ply my trade. Isnt this what all the CL training was meant to do for your title?

    Anonymous

    5th June 2013

  2. LOL. I’m pretty sure that someone who doesn’t know the difference between ‘whom’ and ‘who’ can’t recite the whole of the costs rules word for word.

    Richard

    5th June 2013

  3. I feel another Cost Lawyer – v – Cost Draftsman debate coming on . . . .

    Anonymou

    5th June 2013

  4. @Anonymous 09:30

    Whilst it is useful to be able to recite the various rules verbatim, I can’t help but think that you are missing the point slightly.

    If you are at a DA and are relying on a particular rule, it’s all well and good reciting it word for word to the judge, but is he simply supposed to take your word for it?

    I beleive an advocate should do their best to assist the court in reaching their decision; a key part of which would be showing up prepared with any authorities readily available.

    Whilst you can of course print off copies from the internet, it seems far more professional to show up with all of the rules in one place, where you and the judge have a common place of reference (as he is likely to have a white book).

    I think the crux of what Simon is saying, is that if CL’s/CD’s expect to recover hourly rates more in line with our solicitor cousins, we should hold ourselves to a similar professional standard and ensure we have the appropriate tools for the job that we are trying to justifiy is worth more than £138 p/h.

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  5. Why didn’t I think of simply remembering an authority, or rule word by word, rather than trudging to Court with three copies of every single authority cited in my Replies / Points of Dispute? I deserve nothing more than a Grade D rate

    CodFather

    5th June 2013

  6. I think the point we are missing is that costs drafting is solicitors work as per crane v canon leisure centre.

    This has been overlooked in the hourly rates and farce which is known as the Association of Costs Lawyers (aka Association of Inflated Egos).

    Now it has been established as solicitors work, there is no danger of rightly and properly pressing for higher rates (please dont make me spell out why the expense of time argument doesnt come into this).

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    5th June 2013

  7. Why must we have another CL -v- CD debate. Every day it’s the same. Surely rates are horses for courses. I work alone but charge two different rates – one for smaller work and one for higher value work. I cut my cloth accordingly and never seem to have a problem at the SCCO or anywhere else. It is nothing to do with being a CL or CD and nothing to do with expense of time. It is simply broad averages. Just because a firm could do the same as me and have higher overheads is academic.

    ANON

    5th June 2013

  8. In all honesty I think costs lawyers deserve a higher hourly rate.

    After all if someone was ”one of the first costs lawyers” to be granted a right of audience, and if they are willing to ”exercise” their right to conduct costs litigation, then they deserve high praise indeed.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    5th June 2013

  9. With all due respect Anon @ 11:07, there is no CL v CD debate going on here. The first poster comes across as anti CL, aside from that everyone else is discussing the content of Simon’s article (save for Anonoymou @ 10:17 who only mentioned they could see a debate happening).

    If you are wondering why this debate keeps happening, it’s because people such as yourself keep bringing it up at every possible oppurtunity! Seriously let it die so we can all move on and discuss topics that actually benefit us as practitioners.

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  10. @ Richard. contemptuous

    @ Muffin Man. I dont expect the DJ to take my word for it. He can read his own book if needs be. The point is, its not about whether its in your head, on printed sheets from the internet or in the White Book, its still the same info and the original post belittles this.

    @ Codfather. you do indeed deserve Grade D. We are talikng about the White Book and the rules it contains, not Case Authorities. If I rely on a Case, I lodge it and serve a copy in advance. You should try it, saves lugging copies.

    I did not aim to spark any CL-NonCL debate, however, the fact of the original post is that this issue is one raised BY CL’s at their annual jamboree, bemoaning the fact they dont get enough recognition. I quote “This was taken as being a great insult to experienced Costs Lawyers of many years’ experience. This issue was raised in the questions to the new Council and the suggestion raised that the ACL should seek to lobby for higher rates.”

    Anonymous

    5th June 2013

  11. You’re such a wind up merchant TECP, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t entertaining.

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  12. @ Anonymous erm I did say “Authority / RULE” but hey we both agree that I deserve nothing more than a Grade D – Hopefully I can push this up further when I learn the trick to your great memory skills

    CodFather

    5th June 2013

  13. You are going to be capped at £1500 to provisional assessment now anyway.

    If the instructing solicitor prefers to pay 7.5 hours at £200 per hour rather than 13 hours at £110 per hour then that is their choice.

    Add on to this arguments as to proportionality and that stages of work are being block set, the rate charged/grade is going to be of little consequence anyway.

    —————

    However, the point I thnk Simon is making is partly to do with the old A (running cost) + B (Profit).

    The A on £110 per hour is somewhere around £74 with the balance being a 50% mark up of profit for the routine case.

    Putting aside the fact that all but the most technical costs arguments are Grade D (imo) and only worthy of the normal 50% enchancement, the overhead costs of the ‘kitchen table’ cost draftsman are not likely to be £74 per hour anyway.

    Justification for a Grade C level rate is exceptional.

    ——-

    Also, and slightly on topic, I recall that at one of the ALCD seminars (revision session around 2008, I think) that Iain Stark was of the view that Grade D rates are good and the profession should be happy with them.

    Robert Pettitt

    5th June 2013

  14. @ Anonymous – Yes it is all the same information. If I copy it out word for word in felt tip pen across my chest it’s still the same information, but I doubt the Court would appreciate me providing information by way of a strip tease (or would they?).

    My point is that there is a professional standard expected of those that practice within the legal profession, particularly those who represent clients in Court. Just because you CAN get away with doing things a certain way, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.

    If we costs professionals wish to be seen in a similar light as soliciors/other lawyers, charge similar hourly rates and undertake similar work, then it goes without saying that we should hold ourselves to the same standards.

    Let’s put it this way, if you can’t afford a white book despite having your own practice then costs is probably not your strong suit. If you can afford it, then what is the justification for not owning a copy and using methods less convenient for the Judge?

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  15. it is more eminent to carry an ipad than cumbersome books

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    5th June 2013

  16. Correct, I was indeed showing contempt for your silly comment about only ‘elite’ costs people being able to afford a copy of the White Book and the idea that someone could recite all the costs rules word for word 🙂

    Richard

    5th June 2013

  17. @ Muffin Man. I have a White Book. & Cook, & Friston. I have yet to meet a Judge, whom when you quote a rule or PD, doesnt either (1) know it, or (2) look it up in his own book. To meet your alleged “professional standard” I have to lug these books around with me, do I?

    I will retain the pleasure I see in both Judges & opponents (usually Counsel) at the fact I do actually familiarise myself sufficiently with the rules to be able to address them without flicking through pages to find things

    @ Codfather.I know what you said. The point is you are the only one including case authorities in the debate, which is totally different scenario .Hmmm, great memory skills. Thank you very much. Makes me wonder however for those whom do the exams and qualify as CL, do they promptly forget all they learn?

    Anonymous

    5th June 2013

  18. Correct me if im wrong, but the guideline rates are not based solely on what overheads you have.

    It is based on experience and qualifications.

    An unqualified litigation executive working in a top firm in Canary Wharf, which has a billion pounds overheads can only at best recover grade C.

    A one man band solicitor practicing somewhere grim up north, for example Newcastle, with £5 overheads a year can recover a Grade A rate if he works on a suitably complicated case.

    Costs law is more complex than alot of areas of other law. Also, when things get tricky Grade A solicitors utilise barristers frequently who effectively hand hold, and this happens in most cases.

    We conduct advocacy, deal with novel, complex and forever changing rules, and most of us only instruct a barrister for hearings when it is taking place outside of our locale.

    Anon

    5th June 2013

  19. 1-0 to Richard

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  20. Starter for 10 – Editorial note 44.3.1, 5th word , first paragraph – no peeking Anonymous

    CodFather

    5th June 2013

  21. The SCCO Guide are suggested rates for lawyers who are entitled to practice in every area of law. Costs Lawyers are not entitled to practice in every area so I’m not convinced the rates should be the same.

    I’m also not convinced that drafting rates should be the same as advocacy rates either. On a well looked after set of papers the majority of the drafting process is mechanical in nature with the possible exception of the narrative (although I’ve seen lots of really lazy narratives).

    Vigorous thought really starts in the Disputes and Replies, and certainly applies in advocacy. A qualified costs lawyer only brings something extra to the table when the arguments start, not during the bill drafting itself.

    I have always charged much less for drafting than for advocacy. Generally speaking Grade D for drafting and Grade B for advocacy.

    I get instructed as a draftsman for drafting, and as a solicitor locum / agent for the rest. The phrase ‘I’m a Grade A Solicitor but I’ve only charged Grade B in this matter, Master’ is usually enough to deal with any objections.

    I’ve never had my rates knocked down at the SCCO.

    Paul Williams

    5th June 2013

  22. So only elite people can afford a copy of the White Book, yet you can afford all of those books? Where does that put you in the hierarchy then?

    It’s great that you can dazzle the court and opponents with your memory, kudos, but Simon does not write articles for the almost non existent percentage of people who possess such a gift.

    Most cost practitioners would not be able to recite the CPR word for word,and would not have the spare time to learn. As such, people who show up to Court without copies of the rules they intend to rely on, or a load of tacky bits of paper, are not meeting the professional standard I would expect of an advocate.

    In case you haven’t noticed no one is rushing to support your argument. Probably because you have strongly implied that anyone who DOES bring a copy of the White Book is not a good costs draftsman/advocate…which of course is ridiculous.

    Muffin Man

    5th June 2013

  23. Do the rules come in a book now then ?

    Anon

    5th June 2013

  24. Clearly only costs lawyers bring copies of the white book as they dont know the rules.

    It is only more experienced costs draftsmen who can turn without a white book, and make unsubstantiated arguments because, quite simply, they have more respect and judges tend to trust them more than these newfangled ”costs lawyers”

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    5th June 2013

  25. I think it was Master Campbell who at the conference stated something like, preparing a bill of costs isn’t complicated unless there is something like a Medway Oil argument. Really!!!!!
    Once again the arguments on here have taken of a life of their own with regard to who/m can throw the greatest insult.
    Anonymous @9.30am has the skill (and it is a skill) to be able to quote the CPR and knows their way around it in their head, however, whichever rule you quote, a Costs Judge will always look it up and read
    around it.
    Whatever a practitioner finds best and most effective for them is the correct way in order to assist both their clients and the court.

    Anonymous

    5th June 2013

  26. @ Muffin Man . Keep your ‘ professional standard’ as you call them, methinks your comments smack of jealousy.

    The whole point, which you miss again, is that it doesn’t matter from whence you source the rules, as long as you know what you are reciting – it is with reference to the CLs arguing they are worth more because they know it all. That is what their exams allegedly give them. So I again say, if as you say most do not, (1) what is the point of their study if they don’t remember, (2) what are they claiming to be better for, and (3) why on earth do they say they are worth higher rates

    ps I personally think the “new” CLs do actually know a lot more than you seemingly credit them with, and you’re derogatory comments about not meeting the ‘professional standard’ – tut tut.

    Anonymous

    5th June 2013

  27. @ Paul Williams 2.44pm

    ”A qualified costs lawyer only brings something extra to the table when the arguments start, not during the bill drafting itself.”

    Well done. You have confirmed our suspicions. Costs Lawyers do not know what they are talking about, are disillusioned and are totally out of touch with reality due to a big fat chip on their shoulders.

    If drafting a bill is so easy, why dont we leave it up to the solicitor to carry out (as it is grade D work anyway)

    The reality is that drafting a bill (properly) takes skill to

    a) claim ‘recoverable’ time from non recoverable time – which includes time that amateurs would consider relating to funding, summarily assessed interlocutory hearing costs
    b) prepare the bill in a way which is easily digestible for a costs judge to read, and which will assist the assessment process and result in a cost efficient assessment process
    c) know enough about the particular substantive law in question to make a judgment call about what to claim and what not to claim
    d) be up to date on ever changing statute and common law to advise / decide on how to prepare the bill

    There are many other instances which only practicing draftsmen would know about, you seem totally out of touch.

    The whole idea that a bill of costs is just typing what tasks are done, including disbursements and a narrative which shows at least some resemblance to the law is extremely naive and quite frankly insulting to talented costs draftsmen everywhere.

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  28. The bill of costs is effectively the particulars of claim. The Points of Dispute is effectively the defence,and the Points of Reply are effectively the Reply to the Defence.

    Quite how these ”Grade B” costs lawyers and solicitors pretending to be costs draftsmen can rely on a substandard bill of costs and still recover there inflated expected hourly rates is unbelievable.

    Perhaps it is enough to say ”im a Grade A solicitor, but I will accept a grade B rate Master[sir]”

    Anon

    6th June 2013

  29. And the CL v CD mud slinging continues. It reminds me of Piranhas turning on each other when the food dries up.

    Pete B

    6th June 2013

  30. @ Paul Williams 2:44 05/06

    “A qualified costs lawyer only brings something extra to the table when the arguments start, not during the bill drafting itself.”

    Paul, please explain therefore why the ACL is actively trying to promote the notion, that bill drafting activities become restricted business, so that ONLY Cost Lawyers can draw bills?

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  31. Dear oh dear, what were we supposed to be discussing!!!!!?????

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  32. @ Anonymous (the one whose skin I’ve gotten under)

    Well it appears somebody doesn’t understand sarcasm. Having a photographic memory and being able to recite the CPR, PD’s and protocols verbatim would of course be a skill I would like to have, and I’d probably be jealous of somebody who possessed it. However I don’t believe (and I would confidently say nobody else on here believes)that you can actually do that.

    I don’t know why you have directed a comment regarding the CD v CL debate towards me. I suggest you re-read my comments (I’m surprised you can’t remember them word for word anyway). I’m not a CL, but I don’t think there’s a problem with those who do choose to qualify.

    The reason you are getting an unpleasant reception from me is for the following reasons:

    1. You comment first on an article where in one post you brag about ludicrous memory skills, are the first one to start the CL v CD debate and insult any advocate who brings a copy of the Whitebook to Court (i.e. who shows up prepared).

    2. You then go on to post multiple arrogant comments where you tell us how you amaze judges and opponents in Court with your memory.

    3. You claim only the elite can afford a Whitebook (despite it costing less than a meal for two in an semi decent restaurant), then go on to tell me all the books you own…again revealing your arrogance.

    4. When backed into a corner you make things up; despite the fact that anyone reading can see I never even implied or hinted anything derogatory towards any group of people, and certainly never been involved in the CL v CD debate.

    I can support each of the above with direct quotes from your comments.

    Arrogance is not a quality many people will respond positively to, especially when in your first post you say:

    “I see this is something CL’s are moaning about, so we are back again to the point about their overinflated self worth because of the title?”

    Clearly it is you who has an overinflated sense of self worth.

    Muffin Man

    6th June 2013

  33. Costs Lawyers cannot claim to have ”many years experience” in any event, because, as I see it they limit their experience to 2007 in their title.

    I might start including ”Costs Draftsman (1997)” after my name to automatically attract more kudos and hence more clientele!

    Anon

    6th June 2013

  34. Whilst I am sick of this discussion @Muffin Man more than one of us on here write under the heading “anonymous” quite clearly Muffin Man you have an enormous chip on your shoulder about something, maybe your own inadequacies!!!!

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  35. @ Muffin Man. wholly disproportionate, you clearly do not read the rules. Objections struck out :p

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  36. You are the only Anonymous I know with a supernatural memory ;).

    The only chip I have are chocolate chips, to sprinkle all over my muffins!

    Would you care for one?

    Muffin Man

    6th June 2013

  37. I want to know where Muffin Man buys his White Book! Either he is getting contraband copies (do the Chinese pirate White Books?), or his idea of a semi-decent restaurant is Le Gavroche!

    Rick Lardon

    6th June 2013

  38. I want to know what Muffin Man is on!! For clarity however, I know that at least two of us are separate anonymous writers.

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  39. Simon, methinks time to close this post for new submissions

    the answer to your original post is simple – we are ALL worth less than Grade D, as we all clearly have too much spare time as to post on here to justify a higher rate 😉

    Anonymous

    6th June 2013

  40. @ Anonymous 1:26…not sure where I demonstrated ignorance of the rules? I merely said I could not recite the CPR word for word!

    Disproportionate maybe, but I don’t know about you, but it really bugs me when people pretend I said something that I didn’t!

    @ Richard Lardon – I said meal for two, you don’t win any favours from that special lady with a McDonalds!

    @ Anonymous at 2:11 (or maybe you are the same person? at the other one?…Scary!!!) – muffins, lots and lots of muffins.

    Just so all the anonymous’ know, you can be anonymous on here without actually calling yourself anonymous! Makes for less confusing discussions. My posts are clearly intended to address the first chap/chapette.

    @Anonymous – 2:35 – Agreed.

    Whether you are one of the anonymous’ I have offended, an anonymous who has a photographic memory, or an anonymous who spreads choloate spread on their muffins, I send you much love.

    Muffin Man

    6th June 2013

  41. Why all the moaning. If the majority of us on here are independent/freelance who gives a s*** what we are called.

    We are earning at least £111.00 per hour every hour for work undertaken.

    My average week is 50+ hours, do the math…

    No referral fees low overheads, we are all earning more than most Solicitors and that my cost friends feels good!

    Enjoy it whilst it lasts…

    Costs Master

    6th June 2013

  42. Muffin Man – vol 1 of the White Book in isolation costs £445. The full service with ebook costs over £700. So, I maintain that you must have Le Gavroche or the Fat Duck as your canteen! And good for you.

    As to the rest, honestly Simon G must be rubbing his hands with glee, like Mrs Merton, saying “let’s have a heated debate…”

    Rick Lardon

    7th June 2013

  43. I can get you a copy off the back of a lorry for a score (£20.00)

    I apologise to all costs lawyers reading this post, this is the language and moral ethics adopted by non-ACL costs professionals, which I am sure you will be whole heartedly in agreement with!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    7th June 2013

  44. Well Richard, as Costs Master pointed out, most of us still manage to bill £111 p/h+ whilst the average hourly rate for the UK is around £10-£15 p/h.

    So if you take the ratio of the average income to the cost of a meal at an average restaurant, and scale it up, it works out about the same ;).

    But putting being intentionally difficult to the side, I will accept I should have used an alternative expense as comparison.

    I still maintain that you don’t have to be elite, or even particularly above average in income, to have £445 going spare!

    Muffin Man

    7th June 2013

  45. I spend a monkey (£500) on hair lotion every week

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    7th June 2013

  46. Erm, just to confirm, I’m not Rick Lardon.

    Richard

    7th June 2013

  47. Richard – indeed you are not, apologies, too many people to talk to and not enough brain cells it would appear!

    See TECP knows; you can’t be cheap with things like hair lotion, meals and muffins.

    Muffin Man

    7th June 2013

  48. The fact that it would be the ideal for every costs practitioner to have the White Book, and the fact it is extremely useful to have (particularly for the guidance notes) is not the same argument as whether you should be forced to buy it simply because the Rules are not all online.

    The reality is that there will always be some smaller firms/companies/costs pratitioners with tight margins who cannot afford it, especially in the current economic climate.

    In any event, I think we have become side-tracked here as everyone seems to be overlooking the wider issue of litigants in person.

    How will you deal with them falling foul of rules they could not be aware of because they were not in the public domain? Or explaining to them that they can’t do something because the CPR says they can’t, only to have them say ‘it doesn’t say that anywhere’? Or what about an equality of arms – difficult even in normal circumstances, I admit, but even more so if you have access to more information than the litigant.

    Surely the real issue with the failure to publish everything online is not whether costs lawyers/draftsman should be compelled to purchase the White Book, but that there should be access to justice for an ever-increasing number of litigants in person…

    Midlands Costs Lawyer

    7th June 2013

  49. Perhaps costs lawyers can reserve white books so that only they can buy one or refer to one at an assessment hearing

    I prefer to stick to my Armani leather and diamond clad barristers brief case. When I turn up with that puppy, and my opponent/s and the judge get a whiff of the hand made italian leather its really a game changer.

    Another useful trick is to stuff it full of £50 notes and, when looking for evidence to substantiate arguments, you apologise for all the money, but you have reached your limit at the bank and you are just so darn successful and ”eminent” that it really cannot be helped.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    7th June 2013

  50. “… explain therefore why the ACL is actively trying to promote the notion, that bill drafting activities become restricted business, so that ONLY Cost Lawyers can draw bills?”

    According to the CLSB’s minutes, they are doing this for the purpose of boosting membership. I assume that they feel that this is required as the other benefits provided are not attractive enough.

    However, what they apparently do not appreciate is that the aim of the Legal Services Board is to open up markets not restrict them. That would be the logical reason to grant the creation of a CL, to open up markets to Joe Public for costs services and not to solicitors who can handle it themselves but have enough on their plate. Therefore, the CL is actually the solicitor’s competitor and they should be campaigning and advertising for Joe Public to use their services rather than solicitors as it ought to be cheaper.

    An external CD remains, the solicitor’s temporary employee and regulated by their SLA to cover issues such as insurance and should be looking at reducing rates to remain competitive.

    Incidentally, does anyone know of a case where a CD/CL has been sued by their instructing solicitor and had to make use of their professional indemnity insurance? I would honestly like to know as in my 20 years, I have never known of (or know anybody who knows of) such a case. However, I‘m sure there must be such cases in light of the noise made about this insurance and would appreciate if someone could provide some loose details of any such matters they know of.

    Thanks

    The office cat

    8th June 2013

  51. I agree with ”the office cat”

    bailey v ibc vehicles, crane v canon leisure centre

    sol are properly legally qualified and regulated, and have overall control and accountability for the bill of costs.

    I think it is dangerous for lay people to instruct ”costs lawyers” because the term itself is so broad.

    barristers mainly deal with costs issues before conclusion of cases i.e wasted costs applications and submissions for inter partes costs

    Not to mention other issues that inevitably come with these types of clients such as professional negligence and other potential causes of action.

    The system was best left as it was as solicitors were best placed to advise the client and instruct costs experts as they saw fit i.e. costs draftsman or costs counsel

    ACL Nemesis

    10th June 2013

  52. So it continues, ACL chairman Murray Heining said: “It is inevitable that solicitor/own client disputes will re-emerge and solicitors need to get used once more to ensuring that they have their records in order to counter any challenge they may receive.

    “Costs lawyers are a resilient group of people who have proven the value they give their clients. Now that the ‘shock’ of the Jackson reforms has passed, many can see a positive future where they continue to make an important contribution of the working of the justice system.

    “The need for expert advice is greater than ever as solicitors get to grips with the Jackson reforms, and so it continues to mystify me that they would put recovery of their costs in the hands of unqualified and unregulated people who do not know the law and only end up damaging their case and costing everyone more.”

    Costs Master

    10th June 2013

  53. Perhaps Murray doesnt read this blog (which in itself seriously undermines his credibility) or he is on a mission to permanently damage reputations of non-ACL costs draftsmen.

    Either way the argument is fundamentally flawed because, as stated before

    *there is not enough costs lawyers (who actually have the knowledge or inclination) to draw all the bills of costs that need to be drawn in england and wales
    **as per crane v canon leisure centre it is solicitors work, not costs lawyers’ work
    ***he (or the ACL) has offered no evidence and noone can find any cases where a costs lawyer/draftsman has been sued

    ACL Nemesis

    10th June 2013

  54. Im losing respect for the ACL. Here is a quote from Murray Heining in today’s litigation futures (where it seems most of the lies and spin are printed by their pr gurus)

    “The need for expert advice is greater than ever as solicitors get to grips with the Jackson reforms, and so it continues to mystify me that they would put recovery of their costs in the hands of unqualified and unregulated people who do not know the law and only end up damaging their case and costing everyone more.”

    Can someone clarify what costs lawyers know about the law that is superior to a costs draftsman? Having passed the course I have to say this is utter nonsense!

    Get a grip ACL!

    ACL who are they

    10th June 2013

  55. Going forward with the new bill format if it is an extension of the Precedent H, it will become what we used to call a pleading. Hence reserved activity via the back door!

    Who knows.

    Personally – recognition of the profession we work in is far more important than arguing as to what rate is recoverable ro reasonable. Leave it to the advocate at the hearing – if there is a hearing in the future!

    For those old enough – an expense of time calculation may well prove counter productive.

    Get Costs Lawyer within CPR opposed to Fellow and job done.

    Iain Stark

    11th June 2013

  56. @ Iain Stark. So precluding solicitors clerks and assistants, from doing the very activity, the law says they are able to do? And what of drawing Points of Dispute? If the present bill isn’t a pleading already, pray why does it need a statement of truth? Does this mean it can only be drawn by the solicitor so signing?

    Incidentally, open Q to all, where does it say in the new PD that PODs have to be signed any more……..

    I happen to agree with Iain, recognition for the profession is key, BUT, its a profession which isn’t just restricted to CL’s. What the ACL, and its new voice, are doing, is quite wrong, and will i’m very sure, backfire.

    Anonymous

    11th June 2013

  57. The bill of costs has always been a pleading.

    There is not a cat in hells chance of the ACL making bill drafting a reserved activity.

    I can see the benefit of the PR drive in terms of marketing, but it is very misleading to make sweeping statements to the effect that a costs lawyer is better than a costs draftsman without any evidence.

    Tantamount to slander? I would not be qualified to answer that with my LLM, LLB, solicitors training and decades of experience in the law. I am merely a costs draftsman, so I would have to bow to the knowledge of ”qualified” costs lawyers for an answer to this!

    ACL who are they

    12th June 2013

  58. Whilst not wishing to argue with “ACL WHO ARE THEY”

    Can you give me authority confirming that the Bill of Costs has always been a pleading. This will assist in an article I am writing and obviously I can give you credit as my source.

    Further who are you!

    Iain Stark

    13th June 2013

  59. The definition of a pleading is ”A formal statement of the cause of an action or defense”.

    When serving a bill and notice of commencement you are commencing the claim for costs, which is in itself an extension of the main proceedings.

    If it looks like a pleading, has the same effect of a pleading and will be potentially relied upon in a court of law what makes it not a pleading?

    ACL who are they

    13th June 2013

  60. In any event I cannot see how making the bill a formal pleading (if it isnt already) will mean only costs lawyers can draft them.

    Pleadings in the main proceedings can be prepared by unqualified staff, as long as they are checked by the main fee earner and signed in the name of that particular firm of solicitors.

    ACL who are they

    13th June 2013

  61. I also cannot see that a bill becoming a pleading (if not already) alters anything to do with appointing a CD to draft it. However, I am very curious to hear from anyone who supports Iain Stark’s position.

    With regard to rates, the reality of it is that they are too high, which is the reason why it appears that individuals have now grown delusions of grandeur.

    In view of the training and people they have to deal with, do we really think that we deserve to be paid more than a legal aid solicitor?

    The office cat

    16th June 2013

  62. Yes but it is solicitors work – which thereby attracts a higher rate.

    And I do not agree with the argument that costs lawyers only know a particular niche area, and solicitors can justify a higher rate as they can deal with broader issues.

    I for one regularly have to argue points in relation to other areas of CPR for example recently I had to argue the finer points of the pre action protocol and service provisions within CPR 6.

    Also unqualified litigation executives quite rightly attract rates on a par with solicitors, and they are not in any way qualified to deal with any other type of law including the one they are practicing in.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    17th June 2013

  63. It is solicitor’s work but if it’s not conducted out of a solicitor’s practice then it’s not with solicitor’s overheads and consequently their guidance rates really should not apply.

    Whether it’s arguing if pre-action work can be claimed within the main action; the actual date of service; validity of a Part 36 offer or the interpretation of an insurer’s contract clause with the appointed solicitor, I think it all is still pale in comparison with the work done by a solicitor but more relevantly with the burden of their overheads as well as their regulatory requirements.

    With regard to litigation executives charging at solicitor’s rates, this would be reasonable and indeed normal if they were employed by a solicitor’s firm. However, I know of self-employed agents charging fixed fees as low as £60 per hearing (include preparation / travelling)

    The ACL is a professional body who are currently looking for publicity and purporting to be of high moral standing but yet appear wilfully ignoring this issue for what seems to be for the benefit of some of their member’s bloated profits.

    I wonder if they would welcome the Law Society Gazette or similar reporting on this apparent hypocrisy. It could be good a column filler on these slow summer news days.

    By the way, please could somebody mention to the ACL that their corny attack ads dressed up as news articles are just demeaning us all. . . . Thanks.

    The office cat

    24th June 2013

  64. I take your point office cat, but i think there is an argument that costs draftsmen are in the solicitors temporary employ, and therefore it assumed you have the same overheads as the solicitor (because your rate has been agreed with them).

    There is also an argument which is regularly successful, about using a barrister eg. it works out cheaper to do this as the solicitor would have taken the same, or more time, at a higher hourly rate.

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    25th June 2013

  65. By the way, i like your view on the current spin and lies being spouted by the Association of Inflated Egos as ”corny attack ads”!

    Truly Eminent Costs Professional

    25th June 2013

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