Legal Cost Specialists

Posts Tagged "CCFAs"

Challenging success fees

By on Oct 28, 2009 | 2 comments

The, now revoked, Collective Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 2000 state: “5. (1) Where a collective conditional fee agreement provides for a success fee the agreement must provide that, when accepting instructions in relation to any specific proceedings the legal representative must prepare and retain a written statement containing – (a) his assessment of the probability of the circumstances arising in which the percentage increase will become payable in relation to those proceedings (“the risk assessment”); (b) his assessment of the amount of the percentage increase in relation to those proceedings, having regard to the risk assessment; and (c) the reasons, by reference to the risk assessment, for setting the percentage increase at that level.” In Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals (Cardiff County Court, 28/2/07) the paying party sought to argue that a failure to prepare a statement of reasons in accordance with Regulation 5(1) rendered the retainer invalid and all costs should therefore be disallowed.  That argument was rejected on the basis that “the natural and ordinary meaning of the regulation is that there must be a provision in a CCFA that complies with the specification set out in the regulation. Regulation 5(1) does not additionally require that the prescribed provision must be performed”. Is that an end to the story?  Not quite.  The ever ingenious Gibbs Wyatt Stone recently acted for the Defendant in an EL claim (Middleton v Mainland Market Deliveries Ltd (Southampton CC, 20/10/09)).  The Claimant’s Bill claimed a 100% success fee on the basis that the fixed EL success fees had been applied to the case when the claim was accepted under the CCFA and the matter had settled at trial.  In fact, the date of the accident was such that it did not fall within the fixed success fee regime.  The judge accepted that fixed success fees did not apply as a matter of law and that the Court could not simply adopt the fixed success fee figures when assessing the success fee in this case (see Atack v Lee [2004] EWCA Civ 1712). Costs Practice Direction 32.5(1)(b) requires a receiving party to serve with his Bill: “a statement of the reasons for the percentage increase given in accordance with Regulation 3(1)(a) of the...

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Notification of funding – The New Rules

By on Oct 14, 2009 | 1 comment

In a previous posting (read here) I discussed the old rules relating to providing information about the funding of a claim.  The latest update to the Civil Procedure Rules has made important amendments which came into force on 1st October 2009.   The old CPR 44.3B read:   “(1) A party may not recover as an additional liability –   (c) any additional liability for any period in the proceedings during which he failed to provide information about a funding arrangement in accordance with a rule, practice direction or court order”   The new wording of CPR 44.3B is:   “(1) Unless the court orders otherwise, a party may not recover as an additional liability –   (c) any additional liability for any period during which that party failed to provide information about a funding arrangement in accordance with a rule, practice direction or court order;   …   (e) any insurance premium where that party has failed to provide information about the insurance policy in question by the time required by a rule, practice direction or court order.   (Paragraph 9.3 of the Practice Direction (Pre-Action Conduct) provides that a party must inform any other party as soon as possible about a funding arrangement entered into before the start of proceedings.)”   These changes fall into four categories:   1.      The wording “in the proceedings” is deleted and the reference to the new wording of the Practice Direction (Pre Action Conduct) makes it clear that notice must now be given pre-proceedings.   2.      The insurance premium provision deals with the consequence of not giving the information discussed below.   3.      The addition of the new wording “unless the court orders otherwise” is perhaps surprising. It was previously clear that failure to comply with the notification provision produced an automatic sanction in that the additional liability was not recoverable (in the absence of a successful application for relief from sanctions).  It now appears to be in the general discretion of the court as to whether to allow the additional liability despite the breach, although the starting point is obviously non-recoverability.  What is strange is that the new wording is followed by the same note that previously appeared: “Rule 3.9...

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Notification of funding – The Old Rules

By on Oct 5, 2009 | 0 comments

The old Practice Direction – Protocols (PDP), at paragraph 4, stated:   “A.1 Where a person enters into a funding arrangement within the meaning of rule 43.2(1)(k) he should inform other potential parties to the claim that he has done so.     A.2 Paragraph 4A.1 applies to all proceedings whether proceedings to which a pre action protocol applies or otherwise.     (CPR rule 44.3B(1)(c) provides that a party may not recover any additional liability for any period in the proceedings during which he failed to provide information about a funding arrangement in accordance with a rule, practice direction or court order.)”     On 9th April 2009 this was replaced with the Practice Direction – Pre-Action Protocols.  The relevant section, at 9.3, is substantially the same:     “Where a party enters into a funding arrangement within the meaning of rule 43.2(1)(k), that party should inform the other parties about this arrangement as soon as possible.     (CPR rule 44.3B(1)(c) provides that a party may not recover certain additional costs where information about a funding arrangement was not provided.)”     These sections have, surprisingly, caused problems. This has been due to a conflicting interpretation as to how the word “should” ought to be understood. Is it meant to be a mandatory provision or simply a “recommendation”?     Master Campbell, in Metcalfe v Clipston [2004] EWHC 9005 (Costs), adopted the latter interpretation:     “For [the paying party] to succeed, I consider the obligation on the receiving party to give notification of funding pre issue must be absolute but in my judgment, the word ‘should’ in the PDP does not impose such an obligation. On the contrary, I would construe ‘should’ as meaning ‘ought to’ which is not the same as ‘has to’ or ‘must’. Likewise I consider that a step that is ‘recommended’ under the CPD does not involve any element of compulsion but instead means ‘favoured’. It follows that I find against [the paying party]. In my judgment, pre issue, all the CPD does is to recommend that information is provided and although Section 19.2(5) states that notification may be required by a pre-action protocol, there is nothing in the clinical dispute protocol...

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Crane v Canons Leisure Centre

By on Dec 26, 2007 | 0 comments

The main issue considered in Crane v Canons Leisure [2007] EWCA Civ 1352 was whether the work performed by external costs draftsmen should attract a success fee. The claim had been conducted under a CCFA and, come the detailed assessment proceedings, the successful Claimant’s solicitors outsourced the work to external costs draftsmen. The Claimant’s solicitors then sought to treat the work performed by the draftsmen as forming part of their own profit costs such as to attract a success fee. The Defendant argued that the work should be treated as being a disbursement to which no success fee could be added. There was no dispute that if the work had been performed by internal costs draftsmen it would have formed part of the solicitors’ own profit costs and attract a success fee. There was also no dispute that the external costs draftsmen here would not recover the success fee themselves, this would go to the solicitors. The decision depended on a construction of the CCFA and the definitions therein of “Base charges” as being “charges for work done by or on behalf of the Solicitors” and of “Disbursements” which were defined as “expenses which the Solicitors incur on the member’s behalf in the course of an action”. By a two-to-one majority the Court of Appeal held that the work was to be treated as being part of the base charges and therefore attracted a success fee. In reaching this conclusion, the Court was required to make two findings: 1. That there was nothing to prevent a solicitor from delegating their own work to third parties and then charge the client a different amount, whether higher or lower, to that which they agree to pay the subcontractor. So long as the solicitor remains responsible for the work and it is work of the nature of “solicitors’ work” then it can be treated as forming part of the base costs. This part of the decision is of wider application as it gives general guidance as to the distinction between base costs and disbursements. 2. That the CCFA treated the work performed by the external draftsmen as falling within the definition of “Base charges” as opposed to “Disbursements”. This is an issue...

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Lamont v Burton

By on May 16, 2007 | 0 comments

The Court of Appeal’s decision last week in Lamont v Burton [2007] EWCA Civ 429 is likely to have serious costs implications for defendants and impact on the way personal injury claims are conducted. The case concerned the application of the fixed success fee regime under Part 45. Although the case itself concerned an RTA the Court recognised that it had equal relevance to EL and EL disease claims that are also subject to fixed success fees. The claim related to an accident on 10th September 2004 being conducted under a CFA and was therefore subject to the fixed success fees allowed for under CPR 45.15: “…the percentage increase which is to be allowed in relation to solicitors’ fees is: (a) 100% where the claim concludes at trial; or (b) 12.5% where – (i) the claim concludes before a trial has commenced; or (ii) the dispute is settled before a claim is issued.” The Defendant admitted liability early and subsequently made a Part 36 payment in the sum of £1,800 which was not accepted. The matter proceeded to a disposal hearing where the Court awarded damages of £1,774.32. The Claimant was therefore awarded his costs only up to the last date he could have accepted the Part 36 payment without needing the Court’s permission and was ordered to pay the Defendant’s costs from that date onwards. As the matter had concluded at “trial” the Claimant sought a 100% success fee on his costs. The Defendant argued before the trial judge, and on appeal, that the Claimant should have accepted the Part 36 payment within the time for acceptance; and that had he done so, the claim would have concluded before trial, so that the percentage increase for solicitors’ fees prescribed by CPR 45.16(b)(i) would have been 12.5%. Accordingly, it was argued that the trial judge should have exercised his discretion to allow the Claimant an uplift of 12.5% rather than the 100% claimed. This argument was rejected by the trial judge and by the Court of Appeal on the grounds that the wording of CPR 45 is mandatory as to what success fee should be allowed and the Court has no discretion, either directly or indirectly, to award a...

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