Win in the High Court

Yesterday I appeared before Master Gordon-Saker in the High Court after being instructed by a local solicitor on a disputed claim for costs.  I had played no part in the original proceedings that had settled on the day of trial, some £180,000 less than that claimed.

Whilst I accept that civil legal aid is rare in these times of austerity, it surprises me how few lawyers fail to grasp the nuances of being for and against a publically funded party.  In this particular instance, the barristers at trial had drafted a final consent order settling the claim with reference to "liability for costs to be determined by the court.”  The solicitors for the Claimant took this to be a judgment for costs.  It was not and on any plain interpretation of the same, never could be.

However, it is of note because in any event, they failed to take account that publically funded Defendants by their very nature tend to have no money and the security for costs comes from the State.  The State in return has set down some strict rules and regulations for the convenance of the payment of such costs to protect tax payers monies.  Under s.11 of the Access Justice Act 1999, a receiving party must apply the Community Legal Service (Costs) Regulations 2000 under regulations 9 and 10.  In particular, regulation 10 gives the receiving party three months to institute proceedings for a determination of those costs due to be owing and assessment thereafter.

Yesterday, the solicitors on the other side had simply failed to grasp any notion of this and now are paying with an adverse costs order obtained against by me. They had sought to follow the ordinary route of serving their bill of costs despite warnings from my solicitor and latterly obtained a default costs certificate.  Master Gordon-Saker was incredulous of the actions of the Claimants and their lack of understanding of legally aided litigants.

It therefore remains important for anyone that is a party to litigation to recognise that publically funded litigants need extra care when seeking to recover costs.  There is a clear statutory framework in place under the above Act and Regulations.  These should be followed, otherwise your costs proceedings are at risk of being struck out as in this case now causing them to apply out of time for relief from sanction.

If you have an issue to consider with your legal costs or challenging the other sides costs, please contact Marcus Croskell to discuss your individual case.

If you need advice or representation then do not hesitate to contact me for a FREE initial inquiry by EMAIL or by telephone on 0843 886 2603.  Please quote the Reference: MARCUSCROSKELL.COM.