Legal Cost Specialists

Signature to bill of costs

Quick reminder from the Senior Courts Costs Office Guide 2013 as to the status of a signature to a bill of costs, which is still much misunderstood by many law costs draftsmen and costs lawyers:

“The signature of a statement of costs or a bill for detailed assessment by a solicitor is in normal circumstances sufficient to enable the court to be satisfied that the indemnity principle has not been breached in respect of costs payable under a conventional bill: Bailey v IBC Vehicles Ltd [1998] 3 All ER 570 CA. However, the same may not be true in respect of costs payable under a conditional fee agreement: Hollins v Russell [2003] 1 WLR 2487.”

Note the comments concerning the signature not necessarily being sufficient where there is a CFA.  No mention of this being limited to pre-November 2005 CFAs.

10 thoughts on “Signature to bill of costs”

  1. So, what for bills blatantly claiming the wrong success fee or work done well before the start of the cfa (1 part bill only) and making no comment about pre cfa funding or any retrospective effect? The SCCO believes we should just sit there and accept the bill???

    Better, what about the ‘private funded’ bills of £20k plus for a pleb getting £2k damages where the fee earner is simply described as ‘equivellant to Grade C’ when prior costs schedules show 1/2 the time and totally different rates??

    Time the SCCO woke up and dragged itself from the dark ages

  2. yes but lets join the dots.

    Hollins says no fishing expeditions. The 2000 regs are no longer in force therefore there is little that can be challenged in terms of signature issues that does not constitute a fishing expedition

    In the event that you do have such a genuine issue then yes you can seek to go behind the signature but in reality I would suspect that such instances are rare these days

    oh and for some of the def’s out there things such as not being able to read the signature in question is not reason…..

  3. Seems an accurate and uncontroversial broad statement of the law.

    However, if CFA Regs do not apply to a CFA and CPD Section 32.5 is properly complied what is there left to fish for anyway?

  4. Even as a Defendant guy, I only ask for IP clarification if I think that there is something suspicious. However, when I draw bills for insurance panel firms, I would have to say that most pods include a section questioning it when it is blatantly obvious that the low rates claimed are those billed. It seems that a lot of draftsmen just cut and paste their arguments most of the time.

  5. Baileys v IBC Vehicles is a devastatingly malleable tool in the rp draftsmen’s arsenal to counter pretty much any dispute on pretty much any cost subject. You know its true!

  6. Charles Wheatcroft

    Cutting and pasting is fine as long as the points are relevant.

    I am tired of people asking for a copy of the CFA when the claim isn’t backed by a CFA… How does one answer that *without* a heavy dose of sarcasm?

  7. Speaking of cut and paste points (and sorry for going off topic), I love receiving the (now rare) points of dispute containing objections stating “the Defendant objects to the level of communications and deems the same as unreasonable inter partes” etc. when such costs are claimed from the LSC and not inter partes.

    It always brightens my day.

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