Costs Hearings & Obtaining Appropriate Representation
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What is a Costs Hearing?
Solicitors’ costs hearings can vary vastly in focus and will deal with the issues of legal costs incurred by the parties as part of any litigation. Such hearings can be held at any time during the process of a case, and may arise following applications (summary assessment) or upon conclusion of the case (provisional/detailed assessment). When assessing costs, a number of main issues typically arise including: the rates utilised, the amount of hours charged or specific disbursements. Solicitor’s firms can be legally represented by Costs Lawyers at costs hearings rather than generic barristers. Issues can also arise as to the liability to pay costs, and which party should pay legal costs (the usual rule is that the loser pays the winner’s costs, save for in unusual circumstances).
The Courts and Ministry of Justice have developed a tariff of hourly rates which are used to assess what parties should pay when they lose a case (and these have recently been updated for 2021). If listed for an oral hearing, this means that you and your representative can attend the costs hearing, or your representative can attend the hearing without you. Court fees and legal costs work in the County Courts can be expensive and one must consider the potential costs implications before litigating. If appealing any Court’s decisions, expect significant fees increases in the High Court and the Court of Appeal, but then by the time one gets there, the stakes of the case generally are much higher. Fees however, do not necessarily need to be a determining factor as to taking a case forward in any level of Court, so long as the correct funding agreements are in place (ATE and Conditional Fee Agreements for instance, which only charge dependent upon success).
To find out more about the detailed assessment process, you can read further details here. Broadly speaking however, detailed assessment only takes place once a Court Order has been made awarding a party costs (rather than the liability remaining in dispute). Detailed assessment does not necessarily need to lead to a costs hearing, and the parties can negotiate throughout the entire process, even after service of a Bill of Costs and exchange of Points of Dispute and Points of Reply (the legal arguments to justify/contest the level of costs sought). It is however, of the utmost importance as a Paying Party that you engage in the detailed assessment process however, failing which the Receiving Party could apply for a Default Costs Certificate for their costs in full.
Can Legally Aided Parties Claim Their Costs?
If a party is legally aided and the other side is ordered to pay costs, the indemnity principle does not apply to hourly rates and full inter-partes costs can be claimed.
More commonly however, publicly funded litigation, no costs order will be made save for assessment of legally aided costs. Such costs will be assessed by the Legal Aid Agency only. The rights given to a legally aided client are that on an assessment, they can review or appeal such costs and make written representations to the Agency or to a costs assessor within 21 days of service of being notified of his or her rights.
How Can ARC Costs Assist?
At ARC costs we have developed a specialist team of forward thinking Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers, who can be instructed to deal with any costs related hearing. As independent costs experts, our experienced advocates can represent either paying or receiving party clients, in order to minimise/maximise the legal costs recovery.
Our costs team are also available to handle the full array of costs disputes, and regularly accept instructions in preparing Bills of Costs, Precedent H Costs Budgets , and Statements of Costs (all of which we maintain a turnaround of less than 14 days). Our team of legal costs negotiators are also extensively experienced in obtaining you the best possible outcome in Budget/Bill negotiations, and if no outcome can be achieved in line with our recommended valuation, our in-house advocates can proceed to take the matter to any assessment hearing.
With over twenty years’ experience in external and in-house law firms across the team, our costs team understand the pressure faced when drafting and negotiating costs. You will therefore be in safe pair of hands if you decide to proceed to a detailed assessment hearing.
ARC Costs is also the only paperless and digital law costs practice in England and Wales. This means that the entire instruction process can be expedited, and a much more efficient and simple experience is provided to our clients
Should you need an advocate for costs, wish to apply for a detailed assessment which will result in a costs hearing, or have any other costs query you can contact the team on 01204 397302 or alternatively, email us at email@example.com. Alternatively you may wish to complete our enquiry form and a costs expert will contact you to discuss your query.
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