Posts made in August, 2013

Contents of Points of Dispute

By on Aug 19, 2013 | 2 comments

The pre-1/4/13 Costs Practice Direction dealing with the contents of Points of Dispute used to state at CPD 35.3(3) they must: “where practicable suggest a figure to be allowed for each item in respect of which a reduction is sought” This requirement has been dropped from the new Practice Direction to Part 47. I wonder...

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Costs recoverable for provisional assessment

By on Aug 16, 2013 | 10 comments

In what must have been the most widely expected change to the costs rules, the 66th update to the CPR amends the section relating to the maximum costs allowable for matters that proceed to provisional assessment. The current wording of CPR 47.15(5) says: “The court will not award more than £1,500 to any party in respect of the costs of the provisional assessment.” The amendment coming into force on 1 October 2013 amends this to: “In proceedings which do not go beyond provisional assessment, the maximum amount the court will award to any party as costs of the assessment (other than the costs of drafting the bill of costs) is £1,500 together with any VAT thereon and any court fees paid by that party.” The extent of the amendment shows how little thought (ie none) went into the original wording. There appears to be no relevant transitional provision and so this will apply to any assessment of provisional assessment costs undertaken on or after 1 October 2013. However, the old wording will apply until then. Many will no doubt seek to argue that this amendment does no more than “clarify” what was always intended, but this is clearly wishful thinking. Instead it sets out for the first time additional costs recoverable on top of the £1,500 (costs of drafting the bill, VAT and court fees). The difficulty any judge has before 1 October 2013 is trying to interpret “costs” in any other way than being an all inclusive figure. If the current wording was an obvious drafting error, for example VAT being included when it was clear from the context it was meant to be exclusive, then judges could undertake some clever footwork and adopt a purposive construction to read the rule as though that was what it said. Sadly (depending on your perspective), this is not possible here. The problem arises because clearly no thought was given at the time of drafting the current rules as to what the £1,500 was meant to cover. There was no clear “purpose” beyond limiting the total amount. As the term “costs” is clear and well established it leaves no (proper) scope for judges to give it a different or more limited...

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Mandatory optional replies

By on Aug 14, 2013 | 10 comments

I recently received an Order for costs from Cardiff County Court in costs only proceedings with, what appears to be, standard directions including: “The Claimant do within 21 days of service of the points of dispute, file and serve upon the Defendant replies to the points of dispute.” In so far as replies are optional, why does this court issue standard directions requiring them in all cases? (Level of costs claimed such that it will be subject to provisional...

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Postage stamps

By on Aug 13, 2013 | 9 comments

The officer supplier Viking’s website has reviews of various products including some for Royal Mail Postage 1st Class Stamps 100 Per Pack. Who writes online reviews for stamps? Still, I did like this one: “Beautifully illustrated with the bust of an attractive lady, but tell me, who is she and how did she get to be on the...

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Blow to novel charging arrangement

By on Aug 12, 2013 | 14 comments

A US lawyer who was paid in oral sex has been suspended for a year. The attorney’s client had been arrested and charged with drink driving. When she informed him she couldn’t afford his $1,000 fee estimate, he proposed an alternative fellatio-based fee arrangement. Unforeseen complications arose and he was therefore compelled to charge her twice more before the conclusion of the matter (highlighting the importance of proper costs budgeting). reports: “He was also found guilty of not confirming his fee to his client in writing, thereby denying the world the best ever engagement...

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