Costs News

17 September 2015
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News in brief 17th September 2015

Green takes permanent ACL policy role
From Maurice Cheng, chief executive:
I am delighted to announce the appointment of Claire Green as the policy officer for the ACL, following the advertising of the role in August. Claire, formerly chair of the ACL’s education committee, stood down from Council in early 2015 to pilot the role on an interim basis, and has shown the value of having a dedicated and experienced resource to support the work of the policy and law reform committee in its critical work to raise the standing and influence of the profession.

The interviewing panel was led by David Cooper, chair of the policy and law reform committee. “I am extremely pleased that Claire is joining us to manage the increasing work of the committee and its working groups,” said David. “The Costs Lawyer profession is proving invaluable to the strategic changes in the legal landscape being implemented by the Ministry of Justice, and having the experience and dedication that Claire brings to this relatively new role will be critical to the success of our policy actions over the next few years.”

CA: defendants must outline means to combat prosecution costs orders
When a defendant's means are not clear on an application to the court for a prosecution costs order, it is incumbent on the defendant to place such information before the court, the Court of Appeal has ruled. If the information is not provided, the court will presume that he or she has the means to pay.

The court was ruling in R v Melanie Shurn, reported by Lawtel this week, in which the defendant failed to comply with a direction to submit details of her means when facing an order for £1,200. The court found that she had been given timely notice of the application and the total amount sought, which should have prompted disclosure of her means. According to Lawtel, the appeal court ruled that there was no basis for concluding that the order made was wrong in principle.

The high cost of legal practice
Lawyers practising on their own see more value from what they spend on being regulated than entities, an indicative study by the Legal Services Board (LSB) has found.

The study found that regulation accounts for between 15% and 23% of the costs of legal businesses while, for individuals, the total cost of regulation as a proportion of practice costs associated with reserved activities was between 8% and 17%.

Individuals were more likely to see the costs as ones they would incur even if they were not required to by virtue of regulation, either because of wider legislative demands or for commercial reasons.

The areas of regulation where the regulatory burden on firms was highest were professional indemnity insurance, professional development and information from the regulator. For individuals, costs were highest for information requirements from the regulator, professional development and indemnity insurance.

Forming part of the LSB’s ongoing cost of regulation project, the study was small, using financial information provided by 64 practitioners – including just two Costs Lawyers – working across the market either as part of an entity or individually authorised.

It looked at both total legal regulatory costs and ‘incremental’ costs – that is, costs incurred solely to comply with regulation. Known costs, such as practising fees and compensation fund contributions, were excluded.

The sample meant that the results could not be seen as representative, but LSB chief executive Richard Moriarty said they “represent the first time that the ‘real world’ cost of regulation experienced by any practitioners in the legal sector has been quantified”.

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