Costs News

24 September 2015
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News in brief 24th September 2015

PC fee approved
The Legal Services Board has approved the Costs Lawyer Standards Board’s (CLSB) application to hold the practising fee at £250. The CLSB’s budget for 2016 is set at £151,500, an increase of £2,250 (1.5%) on 2015. The CLSB anticipates that its income from practising fees for 2016 will be £152,500, on the assumption that there will be 610 Costs Lawyers.

Since its formation, the CLSB has been building a contingency fund from any surplus income at the end of each year, and expects to reach its minimum financial reserve of one year’s operating costs by the end of 2019 so as to be financially independent from the ACL.

Twelve Costs Lawyers responded to the CLSB’s consultation on the fee, and all backed the proposal to stay at £250.

New Council members
Following the recent Council elections, the candidates with the most votes were Steve Davies and David Wright. They will take up their positions on Council following the general meeting on 15 October.

SCCO email pointer
The Senior Costs Judge, Andrew Gordon-Saker, has advised that, following the introduction of paragraph 3.2 of Practice Direction 51L on 1 October, the address to which ebills should be sent is: sccoebills@hmcts.gsi.gov.uk

Government launches environmental costs protection consultation
The government has launched a consultation on costs protection for certain environmental challenges to comply with Aarhus Convention requirement that such proceedings are “not prohibitively expensive” and recent European Court of Justice rulings.

Currently, the costs rules introduced on 1 April 2013 provide for a simple fixed recoverable costs regime that caps the amount recoverable from the claimant at £5,000 where the claimant is an individual (£10,000 in other cases) and from the defendant at £35,000.

The Ministry of Justice said these rules do not take into consideration an individual claimant’s financial resources or whether the costs of the proceedings might appear to be objectively unreasonable.

The consultation proposed widening the scope of claims protected beyond judicial reviews to certain statutory reviews, and questioned whether costs protection should be restricted to claimants only when they had received permission to apply for judicial or statutory review, to “act as a disincentive against bringing unmeritorious challenges to cause delay”.

It also suggested that the costs caps would initially be set at a default level and that any party could make an application for the court to vary their own – or another party’s – cap. The court would also be able to vary the caps of its own motion.

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