Costs News

15 December 2021
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News in brief - 17.12.2021

New issue of Costs Lawyer now available

What better way to escape family arguments over Christmas than to spend time with the new issue of Costs Lawyer magazine? The issue contains comprehensive coverage of last month’s ACL conference, as well as features on cyber-insurance, properly certifying bills of costs, the costs of assessment, CFA Lites and terminating CFAs.

You can read and download the issue here.

 

Ministry of Justice eyes October 2022 for fixed costs extension

The Ministry of Justice wants the extension of fixed recoverable costs (FRCs) across the fast-track and in most money cases worth up to £100,000 to take effect from October 2022, according to minutes from the November meeting of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee.

The minutes recorded that “the overall intention is to define the scope and parameters of FRC (and the associated changes), while outlining the new procedures that will ensure cases are appropriately allocated and managed within the new FRC architecture.

“The extension of FRC will enhance access to justice by making recoverable costs more certain and proportionate, while enabling parties in civil proceedings to plan their litigation more effectively.”

Given the complexity of costs-related reforms and how part 45 has expanded over the years, “the policy view is to commence a complete re-draft of [it] to simplify and streamline the rules”.

The minutes said the MoJ was still considering certain policy issues, including whether further changes need to be made in respect of recoverable disbursements and qualified one-way costs shifting, “in order to ensure the integrity of the extended FRC regime”.

The minutes also said that the costs sub-committee will not consider the implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Ho v Adelekun [2021] UKSC 43 until “further consideration had been given to the wider work on FRC and costs generally”.

They said: “The judgment raises important issues as to whether there is jurisdiction in a qualified one-way costs shifting case to allow costs ordered in favour of a defendant to be set-off against costs ordered in favour of a successful claimant.”

 

SDT can order costs on the indemnity basis

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has accepted that the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) can order costs on the indemnity basis, shortly before the High Court was set to rule on the question.

The regulator has now paid a record £228,000 in costs to Jamil Ahmud, a partner at London law firm Bloomsbury Law, whose prosecution the SDT earlier this year found was “improperly brought and pursued”.

The general starting point is that the SRA is not liable for costs even if a prosecution fails, as it is exercising its functions in the public interest. This can be departed from for good reason, which the SDT said was the case here given the “series of grave errors” it made.

It ordered a detailed assessment of Mr Ahmud’s claim for £192,000 in costs (including VAT) but rejected his request that they be assessed on the indemnity basis, having accepted the SRA’s argument that it did not have no jurisdiction to order this; even if it did, the SDT said the costs judge should make the decision.

Mr Ahmud appealed this point and, in the consent order that settled the appeal three days before the hearing was listed in October, the SRA explicitly conceded that the SDT has the power to award indemnity costs and to direct that any assessment should proceed on that basis.

The amount paid by the SRA also includes £21,000 of Mr Ahmud’s costs in bringing the appeal.

 

Happy New Year

This is the final eBulletin of the year. We wish all members happy holidays, a very merry Christmas and a busy, prosperous and Covid-free New Year.

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