Costs Order Made Against a Litigant in Person: Case Study
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Costs Order Made Against a Litigant in Person: Abstract
ARC Costs were instructed by a company acting as a Litigant in Person (as the Paying Party) in relation to a dispute over legal costs, concerning a failed planning appeal. Costs and expenses were sought totalling £6,262.90, and ARC Costs managed to negotiate the same to £3,816.50, a saving of 40%.
We received instructions following the Paying Party having received a Bill of Costs totalling £6,262.90. We were instructed to negotiate a reduction in these fees, the client describing the amount of costs as being excessive for such a modest length dispute (which was over the course of several months only). Counsel fees and disbursements formed a significant part of the amounts claimed, and the remainder of costs was claimed at an hourly rate of up to £119ph.
Analysis & Negotiations
On consideration of the Bill of Costs received, we noted that the Receiving Party did not have legal representation on Court record, and that they had completed all work internally. The only legally qualified individual involved was Counsel however, they were not a formal legal representative on Court record. As such we submitted that the individuals completing the work could not be remunerated under the Legal Services Act 2007 as an authorised individual, and they would be limited to Litigant in Person rates of £19ph only.
The Receiving Party disagreed and sought £6,000 as a compromise on their costs, a little over £200 by way of a reduction on the amounts claimed.
Our client was concerned that further costs would accrue if the matter proceeded down the route of detailed assessment however, we reiterated our advice that the conducting file handler had no legal standing to claim back hourly rates akin to a Solicitor/legally qualified individual. The Receiving Party relied upon CPR 44-47 however, we highlighted that under CPR 46.5 the Receiving Party would be defined as a Litigant in Person.
In order to protect our client’s position, we recommended that a Part 36 Offer of £3,816.50 was made early in the negotiation process, to account for the legal disbursements incurred (for Counsel and Court fees), and for the time reasonably spent at £19ph for litigants in person costs. The Receiving Party responded stating our submissions were ill founded however, they ultimately accepted the offer, thus concluding discussions as to costs.
Litigants in Person
Litigants in Person do not only refer to individuals in litigation without a legal representative, but also to companies representing themselves (not if the company has their own employed Solicitor, this may alter their status).
CPR 46.5(6) specifies a Litigant in Person as:
(6) For the purposes of this rule, a litigant in person includes –
(a) a company or other corporation which is acting without a legal representative; and
(b) any of the following who acts in person (except where any such person is represented by a firm in which that person is a partner) –
(i) a barrister;
(ii) a solicitor;
(iii) a solicitor’s employee;
It is also important to note that if you have a legal representative, they must be legally qualified and authorised to conduct proceedings under the Legal Services Act 2007 (a Solicitor, Legal Executive, Costs Lawyer, etc). Failure to appoint an appropriate representative may lead to you being determined as being a Litigant in Person, and therefore unable to recover your costs of instructing such a representative above and beyond £19ph unless the receiving party is able to prove financial loss above and beyond this. Any representative who is not legally qualified, will be considered to be a McKenzie Friend, the costs of whom will likely not be recoverable in accordance with the Civil Procedure Rules.
Costs Order Made Against a Litigant in Person: How Can ARC Costs Assist?
ARC Costs are a team of legal costs experts consisting of experienced Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers. We regularly represent both paying and receiving parties in costs disputes, and ensure that the best outcome is always achieved for our client. Costs law has become an incredibly complex area of law, and it is imperative that a costs expert is always instructed in relation to any dispute so as to ensure you are maximising your recovery/achieving the best reduction possible.
As an independent party, we bring objectivity to any costs dispute we encounter, and we can handle all aspects of costs queries/disputes. Whether it be providing advice on your initial retainer, settling a Costs Budget or Bill of Costs, conducting negotiations or providing advocacy services in relation to a CCMC or detailed assessment hearing, one of our adept team will be available to facilitate the best outcome possible.
To contact one of the team, call 01204 397302 or send instructions to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also use the live chat function below, and one of our costs experts will be able to provide an immediate response.
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