Costs News

07 November 2019
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News in brief - 07.11.2019

Your views sought on how the ACL is run

ACL Council members are holding an open forum at 3.45pm on Friday 15 November, immediately following the Manchester 2019 conference.

There is no set agenda; it is an opportunity for members to express their views on the running of the Association. It is hoped that as many members as possible will attend to share their views and engage in shaping the role of the Association, your representative body, for the future.

If you are not attending the conference, you are, of course, still invited to attend the forum – to be followed by networking drinks from 5-6pm.

Questions to the council will be invited on the day, or can be sent in advance to enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk.

 

Law Society backs Calderbank offers in family cases

The Law Society has “on balance” backed a proposal from the Family Procedure Rule Committee that any offers made ‘without prejudice save as to costs’ (i.e. Calderbank offers) should be taken into account as ‘conduct’ when the court is considering making an order requiring one party to pay the costs of another party.

In its response, the society said: “Ideally, family cases would not reach a final hearing, as they would be resolved earlier, and this is why we are supporting this amendment.

“However, any consideration of privileged offers should not be categorised as litigation conduct, which is different and usually the subject of strong condemnation by the courts where costs have been incurred unnecessarily through the way one party has conducted themselves in the litigation.

“There should be a separate category or head of opportunity for costs orders to be made, after judgment has been given. This would allow consideration to be given to other factors such as wealth, needs and timing of such offers.

“It is our view that the FPR should have a new set of its own costs rules and we would want to see detailed guidance included in a bespoke practice direction on costs.”

The society said the hope that open offers would bring about more settlements, put pressure on unreasonable parties to settle and compromise cases to avoid high costs has proved “unrealistic and unreasonable in practice”.

It added: “Fundamentally, the needs of the parties must come first. Any new cost rules introduced should not take away from the needs of the applicant and any children involved.”

 

Master McCloud’s “wonderful experience” of transitioning

High Court Master Victoria McCloud (pictured) – a regular panelist at the ACL Annual Conference and the country’s first transgender judge – has spoken of how well she was accepted by the legal profession after transitioning.

She is the latest woman to feature in the series of films produced by The First 100 Years, the ground-breaking project charting the journey of women in the legal profession.

In the film, supported by City firm Dechert, she recounts how she wanted to be a lawyer from a young age and that her mother tells her that, aged five, she said: “Since I can’t be Queen, I will be a judge”.

Initially, she studied experimental psychology and computing, taking a particular interest in artificial intelligence and completing a doctorate at Oxford. She then went on to study law and was called to the Bar in 1995. 

One of the highlights of her career came early on when she won a landmark case that helped to establish the ‘no win, no fee’ principle. She says she has “never had a happier day in the law” than the day she spent arguing that case.

Having practiced at the Bar for little over three years, she took the plunge and transitioned. Assigned male gender at birth, but knowing from very early childhood that that did not represent her own sense of her gender, she had always known she would do this at some stage – “it was written in the stars”. So she transitioned smoothly to become Victoria and eventually came out at work, and then “just carried on… in one or two instances, even mid-case”.

Master McCloud anticipated this could be the end of her career and “had prepared for not coming back, for a lack of acceptance”. Yet, there were no problems, she recounts. “Clients were wonderful, colleagues were all wonderful. It was just the most wonderful experience.” She explains how, unburdened by being able to be herself and no longer carrying her secret, her career took off. She has thrived since then and, in 2006, she became a judge. In addition to her full-time role in the judiciary, she carries out research at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies in Oxford, researching artificial intelligence and online political discourse.

Satra Sampson-Arokium, director of diversity and inclusion at Dechert said: “Master McCloud is an inspirational woman who epitomises our belief that the very best ideas come from respecting and valuing everyone’s voice.”

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