Costs News

23 July 2020
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News in brief - 23.07.2020

Summary assessment should not lead to 100% of costs, says High Court judge

A High Court judge has said it would not be “right” to summarily assess two claimants’ costs at 100% even though he found them “broadly reasonable” and did not receive any submissions about them from the defendants.

Mr Justice Henshaw, having decided to summarily assess costs of £96,384 in DVB Bank SE and Anor v Vega Marine Ltd and Ors [2020] EWHC 1704 (Comm), said: “A full costs recovery is rare in English court proceedings, even in those cases where costs are assessed on an indemnity basis…

“The summary assessment of costs was not intended to be a 100% costs recovery regime. On the other hand, I do not see any good basis in the present case on which to make any very substantial discount to the sum claimed in order to reflect the uncertainties involved, and I accept that the costs claimed already include a significant discount to the claimants' solicitors ordinary rates. In all the circumstances, I summarily assess the claimants' costs at £91,500.”


NHS pays out £498m in claimant legal costs

The NHS paid out £498m in legal costs to claimants in cases settled over the past year, a rise of £55m (12%), on the year before, the annual report of NHS Resolution (NHSR) revealed this week.

The NHS’s own legal costs rose 3% to £144m in the year to 31 March 2020.

NHSR paid out an average of £20,332 in claimant costs on claims worth up to £100,000, the fourth year the figure has declined, from a high of £21,995 in 2015/16. But the average level of damages has fallen far more significantly in that time, from £59,251 to £48,592.

In 2019/20, NHSR received 11,682 new clinical negligence claims and reported incidents, a 9.3% increase; 401 of the 998 new claims and incidents came from the new indemnity scheme for general practice. The number of new non-clinical claims, typically employers’ and public liability matters, rose 4.4% to 3,744.

NHSR settled 15,550 claims in the year – it paid no damages in 37% of those settled without proceedings and 5% in those where proceedings began. Overall, the proportion of claims settling without damages increased slightly.

Some 427 cases went to mediation, compared to 397 the year before, of which 81% settled on the day of the mediation or within 28 days.

Chief executive Helen Vernon said: “We have seen a more collaborative approach to investigating claims for compensation across the legal market. Litigation has reduced for the fourth year running and mediation is now seen as mainstream.”


Changes agreed to ACL/CLSB memorandum

Alterations to the memorandum of understanding that explains the delegation of regulatory functions from the ACL to the Costs Lawyer Standards Board have been agreed to ensure it complies with the Legal Services Board’s new internal governance rules (IGR).

The IGR aim to ensure independent regulation in bodies where the approved regulator under the Legal Services Act 2007 delegates its regulatory responsibilities to a separate body. The rules have been beefed up because of issues with other regulators, particularly the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority.

The revised memorandum confirms that the ACL has delegated the discharge of its regulatory functions to the CLSB and makes further amendments throughout in order to comply with the IGR.

The Legal Services Board issued an exemption direction that meant it did not have to approve the changes, which it does when they are uncontroversial.


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