Legal Cost Specialists

Posts made in October, 2013

Number of Costs Judges

By on Oct 18, 2013 | 7 comments

The Senior Courts Costs Office Guide 2013 lists the current number of Costs Judges as being eight. This is the same number as listed in the 2006 Guide, although two of the judges are now different. The 2013 Guide lists 13 Costs Officers, as opposed to the 11 listed in the 2006 Guide, although 7 are different. It is not clear whether these are all full time. The 2006 Guide said: “Cases assigned to a costs officer are usually given a date for hearing not more than 12 weeks later than the date the request for a hearing was filed. Cases assigned to a Costs Judge are usually given a date for hearing not more than six months later than the date upon which the request for a hearing was filed.” The 2013 Guide says: “Historically cases assigned to costs officers have usually been given a date for hearing not more than 12 weeks later than the date the request for a hearing was filed. Cases assigned to Costs Judges have usually been given a date for hearing not more than eight months later than the date upon which the request for a hearing was filed.” No details are given as to whether the increase in delay in listing time for Costs Judges from six to eight months is due to an increase in the number of detailed assessment hearings, an increase in the size of the bills being lodged or a failure to stop costs advocates from waffling on...

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Unfair charging method

By on Oct 16, 2013 | 6 comments

I’ve just reduced a Claimant’s claim for costs of £147,776.24 to £75,000 and submitted my invoice for £153.40 plus VAT. I should be charging on a % savings basis.

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Hourly rates: G v Kingston upon Hull City Council

By on Oct 15, 2013 | 15 comments

Following on from my recent post about the role of Guideline Hourly Rates in detailed assessment hearings comes the decision in G (by her mother and litigation friend M) v Kingston upon Hull City Council (Kingston upon Hull County Court, 18/09/13). Costs Lawyer Jon William’s always excellent costs blog provides a more detailed analysis but here are some of the key passages from the judgment: “This costs appeal allows this court to set out the principles to be applied by District Judges (usually acting as Costs Judges) when determining a detailed assessment of costs as opposed to a summary assessment by a trial judge. One critical issue has been addressed – is there a material difference between the two? … A detailed assessment is not a scientific process, neither is it a process which will produce a necessarily right or wrong answer. A multiplicity of different methods for establishing the appropriate hourly rates has flourished. At the heart of this appeal is the question of relevance of the guideline rates. The range of possibilities varies from following those rates slavishly; to ignoring them altogether. There are clearly many shades in between those two extremes. Whilst they are described as “guidelines” for “summary” rather than detailed assessment, it is nevertheless commonplace on both summary and detailed assessments for courts to be referred to the guidelines. This is often on the basis that they should be uplifted (on the receiving party’s submission); disregarded entirely (receiving party); or followed (a common submission from a paying party in response to a Bill claiming higher rates than those in the Guidelines). However it is put, it is a matter for the court’s discretion. The seven factors in CPR 44.5(3) will be relevant; but the weight afforded to each factor is a matter for the wide discretion of the costs judge. As we shall come to explain the guidelines are an extremely useful tool for detailed assessments, but they are not to assume an enhanced status beyond a useful starting place or cross-reference point. We emphasize at once that a detailed assessment requires the exercise of judgment as we hereafter set out. … We disagree with Mr Bacon, however, when he submits that the guidelines...

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Costs management conference

By on Oct 14, 2013 | 2 comments

Last week I attended CLT’s The Definitive Guide to Costs Management conference delivered by Regional Costs Judge Chris Lethem. Any firm of solicitors, law costs draftsmen or costs lawyers who did not send at least one fee earner on this course is probably guilty of professional negligence (or soon will be). This is the judge who has run the costs management training for the rest of the judiciary. The extent to which other judges follow his guidance, perhaps, remains to be seen. However, this course gave the inside judicial perspective on how costs budgeting is meant to work and was invaluable to a proper understanding of the process. Chris Lethem is THE costs management judge. Not to mention a hugely entertaining speaker. Nevertheless, I was rather perturbed when at the beginning of the conference he said that delegates “should feel free to comment or ask questions during the day, unless it’s HIM”, immediately pointing to me, “in which case I’ll kill him”. Note to self: try to avoiding visiting places where they already know...

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5 spare units of time

By on Oct 11, 2013 | 9 comments

The other morning on Radio 4 they were talking about what people would do if they could reclaim 30 minutes of their lives. This is a thought provoking question and challenges one to focus on what one cares about and what is really important in life. In our normal hectic lives so much of our time is wasted on the unimportant and trivial, but questioning what one would do with an extra 30 minutes helps to crystallise the things that really matter. With the uncertainty created in the legal profession by the Jackson reforms there has probably never mean a more important time to think these things through. Life is precious and every moment should be lived to the full. With my extra 30 minutes, I would probably check to see if I had any new text messages, update my Facebook status and possibly play another level of Angry...

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