Legal Costs : Recovery and Disputes
During any type of legal dealings, costs will undoubtedly be accumulated. Such legal costs will consist of a variety of expenses, including hourly rate solicitor fees and expenses. At the end of each case, law costs will be analysed and distributed, and most often the losing party in the case proceedings will be expected to cover the costs of the successful party, though there are some exceptions to this rule.
Recovery of Costs from a paying party
The guidelines which govern legal costs procedure (known as detailed assessment) for England and Wales are set out in the Civil Procedure Rules.
Most often, the losing party will pay the costs of the winning party. These costs will consist of items such as legal fees, court fees, Counsel fees and expert fees. This general rule does not apply in all types of cases and does not apply in the Court of Appeals.
Sometimes a Court will adjust and reduce the amount of court costs that can be recovered by the winning party, if they have perhaps incurred a significant and disproportionate amount of fees, or if they have not conducted themselves well during the claim process.
The court can also penalise parties if they have failed to attempt to resolve the case through alternative dispute resolution (ADR), and this can have an impact on costs recovery. Courts also consider the case as a whole, regarding how much time has been spent on the case and the importance of the matter to all parties, plus the level of skill that has been utilised to present the case.
As the court has such authority over such matters it is important to comply with the CPR as non-compliance with guidelines may result in the court ordering a reduction in costs claimed.
A Summary Assessment can take place to assess costs estimates and solicitors’ charges which are to be recovered by the winning party. This is a fairly quick process, as the costs officer will consider the amount of costs ordered in one day, and likely at the conclusion of any application hearing or single day Trial. In contrast, Detailed Assessment is a more comprehensive approach, and is completed over a period of time.
Legal Costs and Detailed Assessment Procedure
Initially, you would provide a costs expert with the file of papers relating to your case. From this, they can prepare the Bill of Costs which can be compared next to the costs budgets at the start of the case. This is an itemised document which outlines the costs which have been incurred by a party.
The Bill will be served to the paying party with a Notice of Commencement. This notice will provide a date in which the paying party’s Points of Dispute need to be filed. If the party fails to respond to the notice, then a Default Costs Certificate will be filed, meaning the paying party would have to pay the Bill in full and lose their chance to dispute any of the costs.
In matters where Points of Dispute are filed, the receiving party can respond with Replies to the Points of Dispute. This document provides the receiving party with an opportunity to defend the costs which the paying party have criticised.
Ideally, matters will be ending at this point, and it is hoped that parties will have come to an agreement on the amount of costs to be paid. Though on more complex cases, this can be difficult. Thus, Alternative Dispute Resolution methods such as mediation are recommended. If these methods are not attempted, the court can be displeased.
If ADR has been pursued and has failed, an application for court proceedings can be made.
Negotiating Solicitor Fees
When clients come forward with a claim for compensation, they most often will enter into a retainer (such as a conditional fee agreement, or a ‘no win no fee’ agreement, also known as CFAs) with the legal professional representing them. As such, no payment will be required for their legal services if your case is unsuccessful. If you win the case then a proportion of the damages may be payable for their work, however, this depends on how much you win.
The exact amount of fees you will pay from the damages awarded entirely depend on the case outcome. Solicitors’ fees will contribute towards the expenses that they, or any other fee earners, have incurred whilst providing legal advice for their client.
Alternatively, to CFAs clients may enter a Damages Based Agreement (DBA). This is an agreement which states that a solicitor will take a fixed percentage of the damages if the matter is successful. So, the percentage will not vary depending on their fees. These types of agreements are not very common within the legal profession as they were introduced in LASPO 2012 and are yet to be firmly established.
If you have utilised legal aid, then your legal expenses will mostly be recoverable from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). Though it is worth noting that legal aid does not always cover all of your legal costs and you may need to pay an upfront fee depending on your income and individual circumstances. In criminal cases, everyone is entitled to free legal advice at the Police station.
Why Choose Greener Costs to Assist in your Legal Costs Matters?
Our team of Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsmen have many years of experience surrounding costs drafting and negotiation. We are able to assist clients from all backgrounds on a range of cases, including personal injury and clinical negligence, whether you are the paying party of receiving party. We can help your case from the start of your dispute and can see it through all the way to representation at detailed assessment hearings and high court cases.
With our extensive knowledge and highly skilled team of Costs Draftsmen, we can provide law costing services to clients throughout England and Wales. We are also proud to be represented on Your Legal Advisor’s panel of costs experts.
Greener Costs is the UK’s first net positive legal costs company, and our aim is to assist your law farm in costs services whilst also helping you become more carbon neutral. Our operations are fully paperless, and we commit to planting 25 trees per instruction. At the end of the year, we will send you a report detailing how much of your emissions have been offset by instructing our team.
If you wish to speak to a member of the team here at Greener Costs then please contact us at 01204 263047, firstname.lastname@example.org or use the online form on our website below.
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