For those who work in the world of legal costs law it is generally recognised as being, at best, an art rather than a science.
However, the other day I stumbled across an attempt to make the process of predicting legal fees more accurate. I don’t know what other people stumble across on the internet but I suspect some are using slightly different search terms to me.
A Canadian law firm offers the online Legal Fees Guesstimator (see link). You enter some very basic details of your future family trial and it produces a guestimate of the likely legal costs.
I have no idea how accurate it is but can confidently state that it is sure to produce more accurate figures than many of the claimant legal costs estimates I see here.
I was a recent speaker at the CLT Annual Solicitors Costs Conference. The other speakers included two highly respected Regional Costs Judges, Ian Besford and Chris Lethem (not that I’m suggesting other RCJs aren’t equally respected).
One of the issues that came up was costs estimates. Both judges commented on how they never see paying parties challenge the reasonableness of cost claims where there has been an inaccurate costs estimate filed by the receiving party. They obviously haven’t seen any of my Points of Dispute. Our existing clients will know that we always raise the issue of inaccurate estimates where this is a relevant factor. Those who have attended our in-house training sessions will also be familiar with the importance we place on costs estimates as part of the claims process.
For those claimant representatives that haven’t bothered to read the Costs Practice Direction (CPD) in recent years, it is not necessary for the paying party to show that they relied on an inaccurate estimate before the Court can take this into account. CPD 6.6(2)(b) makes clear that the Court can have regard to the difference where “the receiving party has not provided a satisfactory explanation for that difference or [emphasis added] the paying party reasonably relied on the estimate of costs”. The crucial word is “or”, not “and”. A failure to provide a satisfactory explanation is sufficient for this section to bite.