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Lord Justice Henry’s held in Bailey v IBC Vehicles  EWCA Civ 566 that:
“The signature of the bill of costs under the Rules is effectively the certificate by an officer of the Court that the receiving party’s solicitors are not seeking to recover in relation to any item more than they have agreed to charge their client under a contentious business agreement. The Court can (and should unless there is evidence to the contrary) assume that his signature to the bill of costs shows that the indemnity principle has not been offended.”
Costs lawyers and law costs draftsmen who have worked in costs for any length of time will have their own views as to the wisdom of the idea that solicitors can be trusted to self-certify their bills.
However, an interesting article in Solicitors Journal, under the heading “John Taylor investigates why solicitors are so prone to committing extraordinary feats of fraud”, casts further light on the subject.
Recent research revealed:
“solicitors, or trainee solicitors on which the research was based, show no greater ethical reluctance in respect of what might be best described as day-to-day petty illegal acts – for example, travelling on the train without paying, disobeying road signs, minor fiddling of expenses, claiming small amounts of overtime which they haven’t worked – than the public in general. …
Law attracts the type of person who scores highly on the mild social deviance scale. … There is a high correlation between mild social deviance (such as being paid in cash without paying tax or travelling on trains without paying) and attraction of prestige and status. This indicates that people who are attracted to law because of its status would also be prepared to commit minor frauds.”
Something for costs judges to think about when the receiving party next seeks to rely on the signature to the bill…