Legal costs chaos

Today is the last working day before the Jackson reforms kick in.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been busy speaking at various costs conferences, giving in-house seminars to solicitors, recording podcasts, writing extensively on the new changes and speaking to numerous costs judges, costs lawyers, law costs draftsmen and specialist costs counsel.

What has become clearer by the day is how much those at the coal-face of the reforms are struggling with the basics. And by “basics” I do not necessarily mean “simple”. Much of these reforms are tricky to get to grips with at even the most fundamental level with added difficulties caused by the transitional provisions. (See previous posts on issues such as Part 47.19 offers and costs estimates.)

I’ve spoken to specialist costs counsel who had not even seen the new practice directions, much less had a chance to master them.

At one conference I recently spoke at I very unfairly asked one of the costs judges from the Senior Courts Costs Office by what further margin after 1st April 2013 he would reduce a bill he had assessed at £100,000, applying the test of reasonableness and necessity, if the amount at stake was £25,000 and he was then to apply the new proportionality test. He candidly admitted he did not know. I am not surprised as no costs judge I have spoken to over the last year has been able to give me an answer to that question.

Judges have been given just 4.5 hours of training, a quarterly newsletter and a podcast to prepare.

The total spent on judicial training was around £114,000. Iain Stark, chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers was quoted as saying:

“If you divide that by the number of judges it means we’ve spent around £150 on training each judge – I spend more on an MOT for my car.”

Chaos ahead.

Have a restful Easter break.

19 thoughts on “Legal costs chaos

  1. Although I appreciate that post 1/4 will be chaotic and the judiciary are less than prepared I would be even more concerned if, given the factors to be taken into account under the new CPR 44.3(5), any cost judge felt able to give a view on the likely reduction of a bill based exclusively on the level of damages recovered. I would hope that ALL factors will be given their due weight, especially “any work generated by the conduct of the paying party”.

  2. Every time Simon puts an intelligent and reasonable comment on the blog which will hopefully generate comment for the benefit of all there is someone like Interested Party above who immediately makes it partisan.

    Very sad.

  3. I enjoyed watching the costs judge’s face go red when you asked him that question, Simon! Although at the same time, I wished he’d given us detailed guidance as to exactly what he would do :-(

    I actually wanted to thank you at that conference for producing your excellent (and always witty) blog but you were always speaking to people and I didn’t want to interrupt.

  4. Sorry, I am not in a position to reply. My parole officer said I must not associate with people from Essex.

    “Grays, the gateway to Eden.”

  5. Mr Robins – When I click on your name it takes me to a website that does not exist. If, however, I amend the .com at the end of it to it then takes to a website of a costs consultant bearing your name. Were you aware of that?

  6. I personally deal with both receiving and paying party costs, although admittedly, I do focus mostly on rp costs.

    Simon is obviously pp bias and we all know that, but its only a bit of banter no need to take it personally!

  7. Yes i am a ware… If (and it sems i have) offended, up set any one i profusely apologise, cleary the garden of eden sense of humour is not universal……. end of

  8. Meanwhile, we finally have the new Law Soc CFA. But I have already heard someone who knows what she’s talking up say that it contains a mistake and may be unenforceable. What a wonderful time to be specialist costs counsel. I wish you could buy shares in them!

  9. Sorry “talking about”. But “talking up” may have been Freudian slip, thinking about the lady in question!

  10. @ ”Garret Hollins Esq”: What a wonderful time to be a costs professional (costs draftsman, costs negotiator, costs muppet, costs lawyer [sorted in order of importance]) no need to pass anything to overrated costs counsel my learned friend!!!

  11. Oh, look at what’s just popped up on Kerry Underwood’s blog – warning, do not use the new Law Soc CFA.

  12. the CFA released by the Law Society is full of little errors!

    Also, the excel spreadsheet version of precedent H has been pulled by the MOJ from their website as many firms complained that the formulae contained within the precedent were completely wrong.

    Considering it is the last working day prior to the Jackson reforms coming in, the Law Society and the MOJ are clearly not ready!

  13. Ok, so far we have the insurance premium being irrecoverable (even in clin neg cases? Really?) and the adverse costs of any interim hearing being paid for by the client up to the level of his damages (this not covered by QOCS?).

    Any more for any more?…

  14. The rotten MOJ excel spreadsheet has been their website for weeks. The formulas are wrong. I tried to calculate a budget and it came to £56m.

  15. @ Annon 5.22pm – are you rp? if not i think you might have missed your calling with those figures!

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