Replies to Points of Dispute: Costs Negotiation
What are Points of Dispute?
When a case comes to an end, the successful/receiving party serves a Bill of Costs and Notice of Commencement to the paying party. This outlines the costs they have incurred during the case and wish to be paid back for. If the paying party do not agree with the costs laid out in the Bill, they have 21 days to serve their Points of Dispute.
The receiving party then have a further 21 days to reply to this with their Replies to Points of Dispute, essentially explaining and justifying the costs they are requesting. It is important that the replies are drafted in such a way that make the paying party agree to the costs, as otherwise the issue could proceed to court for a judge to decide at a detailed assessment hearing.
How to prepare replies to points of dispute?
As laid out in CPR 47.13, Points of Dispute and their replies should follow the Precedent G format. This ensures all points raised are brief and to the point, detailing such things as solicitors’ rates and any specific additional costs.
An important section of CPR 47.13 to remember is that:
“Points of dispute must be short and to the point. They must follow Precedent G in the Schedule of Costs Precedents annexed to this Practice Direction, so far as practicable. They must:
(a) identify any general points or matters of principle which require decision before the individual items in the Bill are addressed; and
(b) identify specific points, stating concisely the nature and grounds of dispute.
Once a point has been made it should not be repeated but the item numbers where the point arises should be inserted in the left hand box as shown in Precedent G.”
The case of Mead v British Airways PLC is a prime example of why Points of Dispute and Points of Reply should be kept short and concise, as the paying party had drafted seven pages of reply to one point of dispute. As such, the point was dismissed by the court and awarded the receiving party the costs. This reiterates how important it is to have appropriately drafted points with concise reasoning. The longer it takes to draft such points, the more time wasted, and such time cannot be made recoverable.
If both parties cannot come to an agreement following their points of dispute and replies, then the case can be taken to court for a Provisional Assessment Hearing or Detailed Assessment Hearing. This process entails an experienced Costs Judge going over all the documentation, assessing the costs and making a judgement on which points from each party are reasonable.
It is worth noting that you are able to appeal any decision made during the course of a detailed assessment hearing in accordance with CPR 47.22.
Submitting replies on time
It is very important that the receiving party send their replies to Points of Dispute within 21 days of acceptance of the Points of Dispute. Failure to do so will mean a Judge is more likely to rule in favour of the paying party during a hearing.
Similar applies if the paying party fail to get their initial Points of Dispute sent in the time frame to the receiving party, as the receiving party will then be able to apply for a Default Costs Certificate which mean they will be able to have all of their costs paid in full.
It is worth noting that parties can agree on any time extensions and new deadlines between themselves without any requirement for a court to agree to it.
How can Greener Costs assist?
At Greener Costs, our team of Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsman have many years of experience surrounding costs drafting and negotiation. We are able to assist clients from all backgrounds on a range of cases and can help you recover costs from your case. We can also work with paying or receiving parties in the drafting of their Bill of Costs or the preparation of their Points of Dispute and Points of Reply.
We are able to help you with negotiations and we have experienced Costs Lawyers who can attend the detailed assessment hearing and other costs proceedings on your behalf to ensure maximum recovery of your costs.
With our extensive knowledge and highly skilled team, we can provide law costing services to clients throughout England and Wales and are also proud to be represented on Your Legal Advisor’s panel of costs experts.
In addition to our drafting services, at Greener Costs, we are actively doing everything we can to ensure our business benefits the environment. We are doing this though carbon offsetting of our staff, becoming completely paperless and carbon offsetting through each instruction.
We're here to support your business
Contacting us is free. It's our goal to put you at ease and offer expert advice on Bill of Costs, Costs Budgets and Costs Drafting
4 Bark Street East, Bolton, BL1 2BQ