Costs News

15 October 2020
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News in brief - 15.10.2020

Legal aid assessor roles now open to Costs Lawyers

The Legal Aid Agency is now accepting applications from Costs Lawyers to be independent costs assessors, following discussions with the ACL’s Legal Aid Group.

Panel members carry out most of their work in their office or at home as single assessors, paid at £52 per hour plus reasonable expenses. The appointment will be for up to five years from early 2021.

The deadline is 1 November and all the details can be found here.

Bob Baker, co-chair of the Legal Aid Group, said it had been a very long process to reach this position. “This is another example of the benefit of acquiring Costs Lawyer status and I hope that some of our members will take the opportunity to apply and undertake this important role that we so often see but know relatively little about,” he said. “It is further confirmation that our qualification is equivalent to that of a solicitor or barrister and the ACL members should be rightly proud of this moment of recognition.”


Senior Costs Judge urges legal profession to provide hourly rates data

The Senior Costs Judge, Andrew Gordon-Saker, has urged the profession to provide data to the Civil Justice Council working party reviewing the guideline hourly rates. In a letter to the ACL, the judge said the group has received “useful data” but not that much from the legal profession. He warned: “I think that it is in everybody’s interests that we are able to recommend rates which are capable of being accepted, not only by the Master of the Rolls, but also by the profession and those who will be affected by them. The alternative is that we are left with the 2010 rates and wide inconsistencies of approach as to their continuing relevance and how they should be applied.”

Master Gordon-Saker said the working group was happy to receive data in relation to assessments/agreements between April 2019 and August 2020 in any format, whether raw or refined. “For assessments/agreements in the current three-month period, there is a specific form, but again we are happy to receive any evidence you may have in any format. In analysing this data, we have the very great benefit of assistance by Professor Paul Fenn and Professor Neil Rickman.”

The details of what to submit and where can be found in our story last month.


Supreme Court refuses to hear case on points of dispute

The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal Ainsworth v Stewarts Law LLP [2020] EWCA Civ 178.

On second appeal, the Court of Appeal upheld a decision by Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker to dismiss overly generalised points of dispute made on behalf of a former client of London firm Stewarts Law.

The court said points of dispute must help the parties and court “determine precisely what is in dispute and why”.

The Supreme Court said the application to appeal did not raise “an arguable point of law”.


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