Family Procedure Rules Costs: Recovery and Negotiations


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What are the Family Procedure Rules?

The Family Procedure Rules (FPR) govern the procedures used in family courts in England and Wales. They were introduced by Statutory Instrument as the Family Procedure Rules 2010, which came into effect on April 6, 2011.

The Family Procedure Rules were intended to modernise and standardise family court practice across the High Court, County Court, and Magistrates’ Court.

They provide a new code of procedure for family proceedings and are made under the authority of the Courts Act 2003. The rules are divided into 36 parts, together with practice directions, certain pre-action protocols, and a complete set of forms.

The Family Procedure Rules give the court full discretion to make an order for costs in family procedures as it deems just, and they replace existing rules of court.

Family Procedure Rules costs

In family law proceedings, such as those involving children, the issue of costs can be significant. The general rule of thumb is that each party is responsible for bearing their own costs, which may include court fees, legal advice, and gathering legal evidence.

However, the Court has the discretion to make a Costs Order requiring one party to pay all or some of the other party’s legal costs. This order may be made at the final hearing or at any stage within the proceedings.

The court’s decision on costs is based on what it deems just, and is often based on the conduct of a party. It has absolute discretion on who should pay costs and the amount payable.

Whilst the Court is generally slow in deciding what Order as to costs to make, it has become more willing to do so in financial remedy proceedings, aiming to discourage disproportionate costs. However, the Court remains more reluctant to make costs orders in child arrangements cases. Seeking legal advice is crucial to understanding the likelihood of a costs order in a specific case.

CPR 44.2 considers the expression “conduct of the parties”, details of which are shown below:

(4) In deciding what order (if any) to make about costs, the court will have regard to all the circumstances, including

(a) the conduct of all the parties;

(b) whether a party has succeeded on part of its case, even if that party has not been wholly successful;

(5) The conduct of the parties includes –

(a) conduct before, as well as during, the proceedings and in particular the extent to which the parties followed the Practice Direction – Pre-Action Conduct or any relevant pre-action protocol;

(b) whether it was reasonable for a party to raise, pursue or contest a particular allegation or issue;

(c) the manner in which a party has pursued or defended its case or a particular allegation or issue; and

(d) whether a claimant who has succeeded in the claim, in whole or in part, exaggerated its claim.

Recovering Family Procedure Rules Costs

If the Court awards an Inter Partes costs Order for unreasonable behaviour, or any other reason, the receiving party will be required to recover their costs using the process of Detailed Assessment. This process involves a detailed Bill of Costs being drafted by the receiving party, and served upon the paying party.

If the paying party does not agree with the costs listed within the Bill of Costs, they can contest the costs using Points of Dispute. The receiving party can further negotiate costs using Points of Reply. if an agreement as to costs cannot be reached, a Costs Judge may be required to make a Costs Order at a Detailed Assessment Hearing.

In cases funded by the Legal Aid Agency, a detailed assessment order is often issued, allowing Legal Aid Solicitors to seek reimbursement from the Legal Aid Agency, (unless an inter-partes costs order has been granted).

To recover costs, Solicitors must quantify their expenditure, for both profit costs and disbursements, and submit Payments on Account (POAs) if the case is ongoing, or interim bills (if one aspect has concluded) or final bills (if the case is fully concluded) for completed work through the LAA’s online billing system (CCMS).

The Legal Aid Agency enforces strict invoice and costs submission guidelines, and we would always recommend the assistance of a costs expert to submit your costs claims online. 

Our Legal Aid Costs Draftsmen can provide assistance to ensure accurate and proper submissions, and high levels of rejections can impact on legal aid KPIs, which may trigger more frequent reviews of a firm’s performance by the LAA.

Submitted bills are scrutinised by the Legal Aid Agency for compliance with all guidelines. Once accepted, the agency may request evidence supporting the solicitor’s work, including court documents and invoices, before making payment.

Whilst some solicitors may recover costs for all completed work, the LAA may apply reductions if they find the claimed amounts to be inaccurate or unreasonable.

How can ARC Costs assist?

Whilst family proceedings are generally concluded with ‘no order as to costs’, it is common for our costs services to be required on conclusion of matters.

We often assist legally aided parties and their Solicitors recover their costs from the Legal Aid Agency (LAA). Common publicly funded work includes Domestic Abuse, Children Act, Ancillary Relief and Care proceedings, and we assist in the quantification of costs incurred to try and maximise recovery from the LAA and to escape any fixed costs exceptional thresholds where appropriate. We also provide CCMS administrative services to ensure your costs claims are effectively dealt with and processed online.

We also regularly provide assistance to law firms in processing fixed costs matters, as well as exceptional costs claims and Very High Costs Cases (VHCCs).

Where an inter-partes costs order has been made due to unreasonable behaviour, as independent costs experts we can assist either of the Receiving or Paying Parties to maximise/minimise the recovery of legal costs respectively. We often assist parties in preparing the relevant costing instruments, such as a Bill of Costs, as well as in negotiation of the same, and conducting of detailed assessment proceedings.

To find out more about how our expert Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers can help you, please contact us on 01204 397302 or email us on


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01204 397302

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