Legal Cost Specialists

Posts made in September, 2014

Costs budgeting and new bill of costs format

By on Sep 12, 2014 | 9 comments

Approval has recently been given to the new J-Codes. These are integral to future case management software that will be used for drafting of costs budgets, costs schedules and bills of costs. As the Jackson Final Report stated, the purpose of the new software included the ability to “automatically generate schedules for summary assessment or bills for detailed assessment as and when required”. The new bill of costs format (the development of the J-Codes being a necessary part of the process) has yet to be finalised and most commentators expect this to be at least 12-18 months before it will be rolled out. The new bill of costs format will mirror the various phases that appear within costs budgets. It will therefore be possible to see at a glance (in theory) whether there has been an overspend in any phase. Unfortunately, we have a further 12-18 months where this is not possible. The process of trying to determine from a bill drafted in the current format whether costs are above or below an approved budget is painful and time-consuming at best and impossible at worst. Lord Justice Jackson always envisaged that his proposals were a complete package to be implemented in full. Sadly, the problems caused by the piecemeal introduction of costs budgeting and the new bill of costs format is a prime example of what was always likely to happen if this was not followed...

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Law costs draftsmen’s fees

By on Sep 9, 2014 | 4 comments

I was recently instructed to prepare points of dispute and advise in relation to a bill running to a little over £220,000. Instructing solicitors had obtained various estimates from in-house and external draftsman. The other estimates varied from: • 10-15 hours at £120 per hour • 15-20 hours at £175 per hour • 5 hours at £120 per hour To be fair, these estimates appear to have all been given without the benefit of seeing the actual papers. Nevertheless, 5 hours appears incredibly optimistic and it is difficult to see how it would be possible to properly read the papers in addition to drafting points of dispute in that time for a bill of this size. As to £175 per hour, nice work if you can get it but I would suggest this is not realistic for defendant insurance personal injury work. To be fair, trying to estimate at the outset what it will cost to undertake this task is a virtually impossible task. How long is a piece of string? It would be like, I don’t know, trying to estimate at an early stage in the proceedings what the legal costs would be of conducting a complex claim through to trial. A fool’s errand. (I estimated 10-14 hours at £118 per hour. Time actually spent: 8.7 hours. A margin of error of 13%-40% on my...

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Future of Costs Lawyers

By on Sep 5, 2014 | 28 comments

A Costs Lawyer was quoted in a recent edition of Costs Lawyer magazine as saying Costs Lawyers should: “get as much experience and knowledge of costs budgeting as they can, as this will prove to be the main source of work for [them] in the future” Presumably the logic of this is that we will get to a stage where receiving parties will know they cannot recover more than an approved budget and paying parties will know they cannot reduce costs below the approved budget. This will remove the need for bill drafting, points of dispute, costs negotiations and detailed assessment hearings. The profession is in trouble if this is true. Costs budgeting can never replace the traditional income streams generated by costs work. If costs budgeting makes up the majority of the work that is left, then that is going to be a small pie to divide up between those still working in...

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Costs Lawyer training programme

By on Sep 3, 2014 | 6 comments

Discussing the new Costs Lawyer training scheme, in Costs Lawyer magazine, the ACL Council member for education, Claire Green, said: “The new Costs Lawyer qualification teaches student that the court timetable is now sacrosanct”. This was written pre-Denton and highlights the problem of trying to develop a training programme in an area of law that is in constant flux. Any training material based on Mitchell will already be out of...

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