Costs News

20 December 2018
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News in brief 20.12.2018

Membership renewal reminder

The ACL sent out membership renewal notices last week. Members are reminded that payment should be received by 31 December. Any member who has not received their renewal notice should email enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk.

 

Ex-head of costs banned from law firms after theft conviction

The Solicitors Regulation Authority has banned non-solicitor Karen Joanne Medley from working for law firms without its consent after she was convicted of taking £10,000 from her employer while employed as head of costs.

Ms Medley was head of costs at London firm Fisher Meredith – now part of Bishop & Sewell – between May 2010 and June 2016. The Costs Lawyer Standards Board said nobody of that name had ever been registered as a Costs Lawyer. A news report at the time described her as a costs draftsman.

In October 2017, she was convicted at the Central London Magistrates Court of fraud by ‘abuse of position’. She was sentenced to nine months in prison, suspended for two years.

According to the report, Ms Medley forged documents which made eight transactions look like damages payments, but she was actually using the money to pay her rent. Her father repaid the cash.

The SRA also issued Ms Medley – whose current working status is unknown – with a rebuke and ordered her to pay costs of £600.

 

Government recognises risk of costs stifling harassment claims

The government has recognised the risk that the cost of bringing employment tribunal claims over sexual harassment might dissuade victims from acting, but offered no solution to the problem.

The comments came in its response to the House of Commons’ women’s equality committee report on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The report, published in July, argued that “if the cost risks of going to tribunal outweigh the likely benefit for the majority of potential claimants, then the system cannot be working properly… Employees who have a strong case against their employer must not be priced out of justice”.

It called on the government to improve the costs regime so as to “reduce disincentives to taking a case forward”, including a presumption that tribunals would normally require employers to pay employees’ costs if the employer loses a discrimination case in which sexual harassment has been alleged.

The government response, published 19 December, noted that costs orders in employment tribunals related to the conduct before and during proceedings. “The proposed change would raise questions of whether the reverse should apply: that people accused of sexual harassment and against whom the case was not proved should be automatically awarded costs from the complainant,” it continued.

“However, government recognises the concern that the risk of not receiving compensation for legal costs of litigation may be dissuading people experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace from enforcing their rights. We have also heard that the fear of being responsible for their employer’s legal costs may also be a factor in deciding not to pursue a claim. These fears are echoed in the evidence submitted to the committee.”

But the response then merely mentioned that legal aid was available, subject to the statutory means and merits tests.

 

Take a break

This is the last ACL e-bulletin of the year. We will be back on 10 January 2019. We wish members a Merry Christmas and prosperous, but of course proportionate, New Year.

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