Challenging Legal Costs: 80% Deduction on Bill of Costs


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ARC Costs were recently instructed on an inter partes costs case. Our team were successful in challenging legal costs and obtained an 80% reduction on a bill of costs.

Facts of the Case

The case in question was a claim for damages for housing disrepair. The Claimant alleged that the property in which he resided suffered from significant disrepair. Details of the allegations set out in the Letter of Claim included external disrepair and internal disrepair to the kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

An expert report was obtained in the matter detailing the issues of disrepair and remedial works required to the property. The expert report was disclosed to the Defendant.

The parties failed to agree settlement, and therefore, proceedings were issued by the Claimant.

Following issuance of proceedings an extension of time was granted for the Defence and offers were forthcoming from the Defendant with an initial offer of £1500, followed by a Part 36 offer of £2750.

The Claimant ultimately proceeded to accept the offer of £2750 and a Tomlin Order was agreed between the parties to be filed at Court.

The matter was funded by way of a Conditional Fee Agreement.

Challenging legal costs of the case


ARC Costs were instructed by the Defendant Solicitor to assist in Detailed Assessment proceedings which involved challenging the Claimant Solicitors’ Bill of Costs.

The costs of the case were substantial and amounted to an eye-watering £32,000 for a just-issued matter, and included solicitor’s fees, counsel fees and expert witness fees.

Within our Points of Dispute, we submitted that the hourly rate claimed was grossly excessive. The Claimant Solicitors had claimed £300ph for a Grade D fee earner, which we argued was almost unheard of on any case, but especially a simple housing case. We therefore, suggested £126 per hour as reasonable as per the applicable guidelines at the time.

We further submitted that the time claimed was especially high in the routine communications and attendances on the Claimant, the Defendant and the expert.  Moreover, it was noted that over 62 hours of time in the document schedule for a just-issued matter, with reliance placed on Counsel, was unreasonable and that Counsel’s fees were excessive for a matter of this nature. 

Finally, we argued that the costs claimed for preparing the simple Bill were unreasonable as it was claimed it had taken 5.5 hours for a Costs Draftsman to prepare the Bill of Costs.

We negotiated the matter with the Claimant Solicitors and settled the claim for costs in the sum of £7,500.00 to include interest and any costs in the assessment in full and final settlement.  This represented a 77% saving for the client.

Challenging Legal Costs

Challenging legal costs in England and Wales involves a multifaceted process, encompassing both inter partes disputes and challenges initiated by clients against their solicitors.

In inter partes cases, where both parties are involved in legal proceedings, a detailed assessment of costs is commonly employed.

This process begins with the paying party serving a Notice of Commencement for detailed assessment with a Bill of Costs.

The paying party responds by submitting points of dispute outlining their legal objections to the costs claimed.  The receiving party may optionally respond with points of reply.

Negotiation or mediation may precede a detailed assessment hearing. If a settlement cannot be reached, the Receiving Party must apply to the Court to have a Costs Judge examine the points of dispute/reply and determine the reasonableness and proportionality of the claimed costs.

How can ARC Costs assist?

If you intend on challenging legal costs, it is always worth speaking to a specialist Costs Draftsman or Costs Lawyer to ensure you are taking the correct approach. At ARC Costs, all our initial legal advice is free of charge. 

Our specialist costs team are independent and we regularly assist receiving and paying parties, either to maximise or reduce the recovery of legal costs in a case respectively.

Our team holds extensive experience in disputing and negotiating legal costs, preparing Points of Dispute or Reply, and providing representation at Detailed Assessment. If you would like to discuss your query further, please contact us on 01204 397302, or email us at


4 Bark Street East, Bolton, BL1 2BQ

01204 397302

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