Legal Cost Specialists

Posts made in May, 2014

Costs budgets

By on May 29, 2014 | 32 comments

Susan Dunn of Harbour Funding writing in Costs Lawyer magazine: “We have had varied experiences with Costs Lawyers, who are a great help on detailed assessments and bill challenges at the end of cases. However, the profession has more to do in perfecting its approach to estimating how much a case is going to cost.” I thought we were all meant to be brilliant at costs...

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Costs management hearings

By on May 27, 2014 | 4 comments

The Association of Costs Lawyers’ submissions to the Civil Justice Council on the impact of the Jackson reforms included: “One court is dealing with case management on one day and then costs budgeting on a second day. This seems to be appreciated as it enables budgets to be adjusted to meet the case management decisions.” It may be appreciated but it completely undermines the costs budgeting process. Case management and costs management are meant to go hand-in-hand. If the budgets appear disproportionate, the court adapts the case management decisions to reduce the work required and reduces the parties’ budgets accordingly. It should be clear from a properly drafted budget what impact reducing, for example, the number of expert witnesses will have. Or, at the very least, this information should be available at the case management/costs management hearing so the judge can make informed decisions. How can a judge make proportionate case management decisions if he does not know what size budgets these will produce? Judges who are ordering split hearings are flying in the face of the judicial training on...

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Hallam Estates Ltd v Baker – Extensions of time for Points of Dispute

By on May 20, 2014 | 3 comments

Lord Justice Jackson handed down yesterday an important decision on applications to extend time for serving points of dispute in Hallam Estates Ltd & Anor v Baker [2014] EWCA Civ 661. Master Gordon-Saker’s earlier sensible decision was reinstated. The judgment contains a helpful “executive summary” (more of these please in judgments): “In detailed assessment proceedings the paying parties applied for a reasonable extension of time in which to serve their points of dispute. That extension of time would not imperil any hearing dates or otherwise disrupt the proceedings. The costs judge granted that extension of time and subsequently rejected an application to set it aside. The receiving party appealed to the High Court against the latter decision. The judge allowed the appeal on the grounds that (i) there had been non-disclosure and (ii) the costs judge had impermissibly granted relief from sanctions. The allegations of non-disclosure are now withdrawn. Furthermore, the costs judge was not dealing with relief from sanctions. He was making a case management decision about extension of time. The judge ought not to have interfered with the costs judge’s exercise of discretion.” The decision does highlight one current problem area that parties apparently cannot agree such extensions without the court’s approval being sought: “Pursuant to rule 3.8 (3) the court’s approval would have been required for any such agreement, but that would have been a formality. By way of digression I comment that rule 3.8 will shortly be amended so that in the ordinary way parties can, without reference to the court, agree extensions of time up to 28 days, provided that this does not put at risk any hearing date.” Crucially, for applications for extensions made before expiry of the deadline: “An application for an extension of the time allowed to take any particular step in litigation is not an application for relief from sanctions, provided that the applicant files his application notice before expiry of the permitted time period. This is the case even if the court deals with that application after the expiry of the relevant period. … It therefore follows that on 16th May 2013 the costs judge was dealing with an in-time application. This was a straightforward application to extend time...

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Cap for provisional assessment costs

By on May 16, 2014 | 6 comments

District Judge Marshall Phillips commenting at the Association of Costs Lawyers’ Annual Conference on the £1,500 cap for provisional assessment, stated that he would normally allow less for a £15,000 bill than a £70,000 bill. This is sensible as the £1,500 is a maximum, not a minimum or fixed, amount.

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