Costs management conference

Last week I attended CLT’s The Definitive Guide to Costs Management conference delivered by Regional Costs Judge Chris Lethem.

Any firm of solicitors, law costs draftsmen or costs lawyers who did not send at least one fee earner on this course is probably guilty of professional negligence (or soon will be).

This is the judge who has run the costs management training for the rest of the judiciary. The extent to which other judges follow his guidance, perhaps, remains to be seen. However, this course gave the inside judicial perspective on how costs budgeting is meant to work and was invaluable to a proper understanding of the process. Chris Lethem is THE costs management judge. Not to mention a hugely entertaining speaker.

Nevertheless, I was rather perturbed when at the beginning of the conference he said that delegates “should feel free to comment or ask questions during the day, unless it’s HIM”, immediately pointing to me, “in which case I’ll kill him”.

Note to self: try to avoiding visiting places where they already know you.

2 thoughts on “Costs management conference

  1. I attended a course in Birmingham pre-AFD with Chris Lethem. He seems to know his stuff.

    However, when asked about the new approach to the application to sanctions where a litigant in person is in default, he acknowledged that there was a problem.

    The reasoning is that you cannot have stringent sanctions which only apply to lawyers – they have to be applied across the board. This presents a problem with LIPs as their lack of knowledge puts them in a poor position such that being the victim of automatic sanctions could seriously affect the access to justice.

    Chris felt that funding should be made available to prepare guides and tutorials e.g. YouTube videos and PDFs to guide LIPs through the litigation minefield. There would then be no excuse for not complying with rules and LIPs would be on an equal standing with opposition lawyers and, more importantly, would not have no excuse for non-compliance.

    Of course, this seems otiose bearing in mind the Singapore model is widely being ignored and judges are reluctant to apply costs budgets due to the additional expense involved (seriously – I prepared a budget with a colleague recently on a boundary dispute case and the judge said it would add expense to impose budgets).

    Perhaps the cultural differences between Singapore and the UK were too far apart in the first instance to seriously implement a ‘tough justice’ system in the UK? Only time will tell..

  2. His comments are surely a good indication of the view that hopefully will be taken as to ridiculous / contrived paying party arguments that seek to find a loophole in the rules where the intention of the rule is clear when applying “common sense”

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