We asked some of our team of legal costs experts to provide their top costs tips and as a result we have 12 to share. We hope that among them, there will be at least one or two that you take away and put to good use in the future.
So here goes!
Remission of Court Fees
Kate Benn-Mack, Senior Law Costs Draftsman & Team Leader
Be aware that if your Client is entitled to Court fee remission, it is imperative that remission eligibility is considered. Failure to apply for remission when your client is eligible, will likely result in all court fees being disputed and could make recovery difficult upon successful conclusion of the claim. We do however have success in recovering these fees regardless, but our advice would always be to apply where practicably possible.
Adam Poole, Costs Consultant
‘Cash is King’ – In litigated matters ensure that there is a provision for the release of an interim payment within any Final Order agreed with the Paying Party. In non-litigated matters, where Part 8 proceedings are necessary, it is again important that a term within the Draft Order be included that an interim payment be released. Failing an interim being released by the Paying Party pursuant to an Order from the Court, R Costings are exceptionally successful in applications to the Court for the release of an interim payment pursuant to CPR 44.2(8).
Lee Ellison, Senior Costs Lawyer & Operations Manager
The tactical use of CPR Part 36 is hugely important within Detailed Assessment proceedings. From a Claimant perspective, a competitive Part 36 offer on the table for acceptance can put your opponents at risk of additional sums payable in accordance with CPR 36.17 (4) which can lead to a significant windfall at conclusion.
Julie Hellewell, Senior Law Costs Draftsman
Be aware that in accordance with CPR 45.29D, a claim which initially starts in the Portal for RTA/EL/PL Protocol, until the court allocates it to the Multi Tack can only recover fixed costs, irrespective of the value of damages recovered, (unless the exceptional circumstance rule can be invoked under CPR 45.9J)
Craig Stevens, Senior Law Costs Draftsman
Record time when dictating/preparing attendance notes – reasonable time for the doing so is recoverable inter partes but is often not claimed, whether that be separately or incorporated/added into the main attendance note/time. Such time can add up and make a real difference to recovery.
Marinus Clement, Senior Costs Lawyer
If a solicitor is spending more time than normal on a particular matter, because something about that aspect of the work is out of the ordinary, then he or she should make a contemporaneous file note as to the reason why.
Attendance of multiple fee earners at meetings, conferences etc – recoverability of time
Think hard before attending any Party (Claimant included) meeting, conference etc with more than one fee earner. The bar is high (at the SCCO particularly) to justify recovery of multiple fee earners’ time. Only in exceptional circumstances or if armed with specific detail as to the real benefit provided of the dual attendance, will the second fee earners’ time be recovered. Taking a detailed note to free up the conducting fee earner will, almost certainly, not be enough.
Paul Kay, Senior Law Costs Draftsman & Head of Costs Budgeting;
Take Budgeting seriously – Stay on top of your Budget!
Overall the broad thrust of the decisions of a Circuit Judge in Merrix and of the Court of Appeal Harrison have finally given some much needed certainty to the mechanics of the process insofar as it related to eventual costs recovery and they are broadly good news for Receiving Parties that deal with the budgeting process properly.
A Defendant will have to work hard to get the Court on Detailed Assessment to depart from the “future costs” set in your approved or agreed budget, but conversely that receiving party will have to work hard to justify any overspend.
Cases do not stay the same and currently I am seeing a single figure percentage of Budgets I have prepared come back for “significant development” amendments in their lifetime. I simply cannot believe that more than 90% of cases don’t change significantly from CMC to conclusion so there is a lot of lost money and an unpleasant surprise out there, where receiving parties aren’t updating budgets.
The process of amending is simple, paper only and costs a minimal amount. Monitor your budget assiduously as the claim progresses and come back to me for advice on how to get it increased if you need to.
Court of Protection
Rebecca Robson, Senior Costs Lawyer
Frequency of submitting bills to the SCCO – It is good practice and in the Protected Party’s best interests for the Deputy to submit their general management Bill of Costs to the SCCO annually, as close as possible to the end of the annual management year. Deputies will be required to explain if this cannot be done and this could potentially have a negative effect on the outcome of any assessment.
Jenny Freeman, Senior Law Costs Draftsman
Estimating costs in the Court of Protection (OPG105);
Use the guideline hourly rates issued by the SCCO as it is unlikely the Court of Protection will allow anything other than these for general management matters. Consider past bills and consider if the case will continue along the same line as the previous years when estimating forthcoming costs. If fees are likely to be 20% or more than a submitted estimate make sure you inform the Office of the Public Guardian.
Free Courier Service for Security, Speed and Peace of Mind
Greig Sarath, Office Manager
Ensure that you have peace of mind when it comes to the security of your files. A quick phone call or email to me Greig@rcostings.co.uk and your files will be collected by one of our own, in house, door to door nationwide drivers, at no cost to you. Once your work is completed our driver will return your file directly to your office. Maintaining the security of your files is of paramount importance from the moment we collect, to the moment we return them to you and our speedy and efficient courier service ensures that.
Why Use R Costings?
Carl Waring, Solicitor and Head of Business Development
Having been a solicitor for over 25 years, I have seen costs law (both as a legal topic in its own right and in practice), develop massively over the past 20 years. We are now light years away from the ‘weigh the file and guess a figure’ approach of yesteryear. In my opinion, never has there been a greater need for solicitors to use an experienced firm of costs experts both during the life of, and at the conclusion of their matters. R Costings, with a wealth of experienced costs experts on board, provide the perfect solution to all your costs needs. Contact me on 01480 220812 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to find out more about how we can help you.
If any of the ‘tips’ above spark any further queries you might have on any of the topics covered, why not give us a call 01480 463499 and speak to one of our legal costs experts. We are all here to help!