More Legal Costs Blog branded t-shirts

Our newly launched Legal Costs Blog branded range of t-shirts has been an instant hit with orders flying off the shelf. We are delighted to be able to announce that a further selection of designs is now available.  As before, the t-shirts have our brand new Legal Costs Blog logo on the rear and one of the following slogans on the front:

“Actually, I think you’ll find it was Lord Scott who gave the dissenting judgment in Callery v Gray”

“The Legal Costs Blog is very educational. After reading it for 30 minutes I thought: ‘Well, that taught me a lesson'”

“If legal costs disputes are really so complicated why did God create costs muppets? Or was that the work of the devil?”

“What do you mean: ‘unreported decision’? It’s reported in Costs Law Reports

“My teachers said I’d never amount to anything. I’ve just qualified as a Costs Lawyer.  Who’s laughing now?

“Define ‘fraudulent claim for costs'”

“So many courts to go to, so many judges to annoy, so little time”

“It’s sort of like being an accountant but with less obvious value to humanity”

“Grade C fee earner? Can you be a little more specific?”

“I read the Legal Costs Blog. I’m none the wiser but I am better informed.

“Specialist costs counsel kick sand in the face of specialist tax counsel”

“No, I’m fine. I work in legal costs. I always look this miserable”

“Five out of four costs negotiators don’t understand fractions”

“Litigant-in-person you say? If you’ll just leave your telephone number I’ll make sure someone gets back to you”

“My boss read all 663 pages of the Preliminary Jackson Report plus appendices and all 557 pages of the Final Jackson Report and all I got was this lousy t-shirt”

“Who’s Lord Justice Jackson?”

A couple of the fee earners at Gibbs Wyatt Stone have kindly agreed to model one of our earlier t-shirt designs (thank you Bianca and Chantelle):



Legal Costs Blog branded t-shirts

Last week I attended a couple of functions hosted by chambers that specialise in legal costs. The first event was Hailsham Chambers Annual Costs Group Seminar. The second was 39 Essex Street’s Summer Garden Party.

At the first event I met a perfectly charming young lady who said, and I’m obviously paraphrasing for comedy effect, “Oh my God! You’re Simon Gibbs who writes the Legal Costs Blog. I can’t believe I’m really talking to you”.

At the second event I met another perfectly charming young lady who said, and this time I don’t need to paraphrase for comedy effect, “Oh my God! You’re Simon Gibbs who writes the Legal Costs Blog. I can’t believe I’m really talking to you. You’re a guru of the legal costs world”.

Now, I don’t know what surprised me most:

1. That there appear to be as many as two people who regularly read the Legal Costs Blog; or
2. That I have somehow managed to acquire groupies.

I guess there’s a surprisingly fine line between something being flattering and something being just a little bit creepy.

Anyway, given the massive popularity of the Legal Costs Blog, the next logical step is to make available t-shirts so fans can show their support. We’ve put together the following selection. Unfortunately, we’re still working on the online ordering system so you’ll have to email to enquire about sizes and pricing.

The t-shirts have our brand new Legal Costs Blog logo on the rear and one of the following slogans on the front:


"I instructed specialist costs counsel to attend the SCCO and all I got was this lousy t-shirt"

"Costs Lawyer v Accountant. That’s a slap fight I’d pay to see"

"I spend 90% of my life drafting bills of costs and reading the Legal Costs Blog. The rest is just wasted"

"Pay peanuts, get costs monkeys"

"Those law costs draftsmen who think they know it all are an annoyance to those of us who do"

"Two costs draftsmen in the same room is a detailed assessment. Three is a party"

"I’m also authorised to administer oaths"

"That reminds me about a really interesting story about a costs case I once had…"

"Bring back the Conditional Fee Agreement Regulations 2000!"

"What do I do for a living? I’m glad you asked me that…"

"I think you’ll find that would be a breach of the indemnity principle"

"I hvae no pbmolers dartnifg atarcuce blils of ctsos aeftr dkniinrg tne pntis of lgraer"

"1st November 2005: The day a little something in me died"

"Satellite litigation rocks!"


Offers to settle costs

One of the more unfortunate costs provisions in the CPR is the general presumption that the receiving party is entitled to the costs of the detailed assessment proceedings. This encourages some receiving parties to submit inflated and unrealistic bills and, unless the paying party makes an offer that they consider puts them at real risk, pursue the matter to an assessment hearing without making any attempt at settlement or making any offers of their own.

It is worth mentioning at this point that an offer to settle a costs claim made under Part 47.19 does not carry any automatic consequence, unlike a Part 36 offer. The courts certainly do place enormous weight on Part 47.19 offers but it would be a mistake for either party to think that beating such an offer is determinative.

However, the approach of failing to actively engage in negotiations carries its its own dangers. CPR 47.18 lists the various factors that the court "must" have regard to when deciding whether to make an order other than that the receiving party recovers their costs. This includes the conduct of the parties and the amount by which the bill is reduced.

Referring to the case of Butcher v Wolfe [1999] 1 F.L.R. 334, the Court of Appeal in Codent Ltd v Dyson Ltd EWCA Civ 1835 stated:

"The second point to be derived from the case of Butcher is that there is an obligation to negotiate, placed upon the parties, which, as that case held, was not limited purely to family proceedings. A party who has refused a Calderbank offer point-blank and failed to negotiate might be penalised in costs if such refusal was unreasonable."

This approach has been reemphasised by Jackson J (now Jackson LJ) in Multiplex Constructions (UK) Ltd v Cleveland Bridge UK Ltd [2008] EWHC 2280 (TCC) where he held that if one party makes an offer to settle a claim which is nearly but not quite sufficient and the other party rejects that offer outright without any attempt to negotiate, then it might be appropriate to penalise the second party in costs.

In my experience, judges are willing to apply this reasoning to detailed assessment costs. Further, even where (rarely) I have not succeeded on my own Part 47.19 offer, I have often been able to persuade a judge to make a costs order in the paying party’s favour or no order for costs where the bill has been significantly reduced.

As readers are no doubt aware, Jackson LJ has now been given the task of undertaking a fundamental review of litigation funding. I am sure he is a regular reader of this blog and he may wish to consider the following modest proposal. Receiving parties have an enormous advantage in detailed assessment proceedings because they have access to something the paying party does not: their own file of papers. A receiving party is in a far better position than the paying party to actually calculate what their bill is really worth. Paying parties must always engage in a certain amount of guess work, however "educated" that guess is.

Why not introduce a rule that the receiving party must make an offer to settle in relation to their own bill of costs and they will not be able to recover their assessment costs if they fail to beat that offer? Something similar was proposed, but dropped, in respect of quantum hearings for the new claims process. This offer should be made at the same time as serving the bill and any further offers would provide no further protection. This would force receiving parties to sensibly value their costs from the outset and would almost certainly dramatically reduce the number of detailed assessment hearing.

I would be interested to hear readers’ views.

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qc april 16 96

Queen’s Counsel

Those charming chaps who create the Queen’s Counsel cartoon strip have very kindly given us permission to use some of their cartoons on this blog. Many of you are no doubt already familiar with this excellent strip that appears in the law pages of The Times newspaper and pokes fun at lawyers and the law.

Why not pop over to their website: Queen’s Counsel to view more of their cartoons? Even better, buy their latest collection at Amazon.

Click image to enlarge:

qc oct3 1993