Disputing Legal Costs – How Can Greener Costs Assist?

A costs draftsman is a specialist legal professional who deals with the costs of legal disputes and assists clients in disputing legal costs. They are responsible for preparing detailed bills of costs, which are documents that set out the legal fees and expenses that have been incurred in a case. Costs draftsmen also represent clients at hearings before the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO), where the SCCO decides whether the costs claimed are reasonable and should be paid.

Costs draftsmen can advise clients on their rights and obligations in relation to costs. They can also help clients to negotiate with the other party to try to reach a settlement. This is especially prevalent if a client receives a bill or invoice that they do not agree with or think is unfair and wishes to challenge the legal costs being claimed.

If a dispute over costs cannot be resolved through negotiation, it may be necessary to have a hearing before the SCCO. Costs draftsmen can represent clients at these hearings and argue their case on their behalf.

Costs draftsmen play an essential role in the legal system. They help to ensure that the costs of legal disputes are fair and reasonable, and they provide valuable assistance to clients who are involved in these disputes.

Disputing Legal Costs With the Solicitors Firm 

An informal route of dealing directly with the solicitors firm regarding the perceived unfairness of the costs and solicitor fees they are claiming can save both time and money for both parties involved. If you are able to challenge your solicitor, you may be able to come to an agreement which will save applying to the court, court orders and court fees needed to solve the matter officially.

Solicitors are required to follow the Solicitors Code of Conduct, which includes informing you how to make a complaint and to whom it should be made. They must also deal with complaints fairly. If you receive an invoice or solicitors bill, it is worth noting that there are strict time limits to making a complaint. We recommend that you resolve the complaint within one month. If you are unable to resolve the complaint within one month, you may need to apply for a detailed assessment.

Disputing Legal Costs through the Legal Ombudsman

If you have a dispute over legal costs with a solicitors firm and you are unable to resolve it directly with the firm, consider escalating the complaint to the Legal Ombudsman. The Legal Ombudsman is an independent body that handles complaints about legal service providers. The process is free; however, it is a requirement that you must have already made a complaint directly to the solicitor’s firm prior to instigating a complaint with the Legal Ombudsman.

Disputing Legal Costs through Detailed Assessment Proceedings 

Detailed assessment hearings are a formal process for challenging the amount of a legal bill under the Solicitors Act 1974 section 70. The proceedings are heard by a judge, who will decide whether the bill is reasonable.

To apply for a detailed assessment, you must file a claim form with the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO). The claim form must set out the reasons why you believe the bill is too high.

It is worth noting that there are specific timescales you must follow when applying for a detailed assessment. Generally, you must apply to the court within one month of the bill being delivered to be entitled to a detailed assessment. Anything after one month will be subject to the court’s discretion and depend on any special circumstances.

The SCCO will then serve the claim form to the other party, who will have the opportunity to respond. If the other party does not respond, the SCCO will proceed with the hearing in their absence.

The hearing will be held before a judge. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your case and to call witnesses. The other party will also have the opportunity to present their case and to call witnesses.

The judge will then decide whether the assessment of the bill is reasonable. If the judge decides that the bill is too high, they will reduce the amount that you owe.

Disputing Legal Costs through Points of Dispute (Precedent G)

Disputing legal costs through Points of Dispute (POD) is a crucial step in the detailed assessment process. Points of Dispute are formal documents that outline the specific items or aspects of the costs being disputed.

After receiving the Notice of Commencement, you have 21 days to prepare a Points of Dispute. The POD is a document that identifies specific items in the bill that you disagree with. You do not have to accept the original Bill of Costs and pay the costs detailed within.

The POD can be used to address any inflated entries in the bill or to contest the amount claimed for disbursements. If you do not prepare a POD within 21 days, the opposing party can serve a Default Costs Certificate (DCC) on you. The DCC will enforce payment of the total amount of the Bill of Costs.

How can Greener Costs assist?

Greener Costs are a specialist costs draftsman firm, and our team of costs lawyers and costs draftsmen have many years of experience in the industry. We can offer specialist legal advice surrounding disputing legal costs whilst actively doing everything we can to ensure our business benefits the environment.

We are doing this through carbon offsetting of our staff, becoming completely paperless and carbon offsetting through each instruction.

For a free, no-obligation discussion, get in touch using the form at the bottom of the page, or contact info@greenercosts.co.uk.

 

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