Form H – Ancillary Relief Cost Estimate
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Why is a Form H Ancillary Relief Cost Estimate Necessary?
As part of any divorce proceedings, the parties will inevitably need to deal with the split of the marital assets. Parties are always encouraged to try and resolve financial disputes amicably pre-issue where possible, whether via negotiation and agreement, or any other means of Alternative Dispute Resolution.
This can often involve the parties detailing the extent of their financial assets informally in a Form E type format, which often includes assets such as interest in the former matrimonial home, any savings or pension each party holds, and any other assets.
When parties cannot come to an amicable resolution to the split of their financial assets however, they may require the input of the Court. It is important to note that litigation can become extremely expensive, particularly in relation to larger and more complex assets of the marriage, and therefore it is both parties’ interests to ensure that costs estimates are filed and exchanged to control the costs of litigation.
When Should a Form H Ancillary Relief Cost Estimate be Prepared?
Once a Form A has been filed initiating the Financial Remedy proceedings, the matter will be listed for a First Appointment.
Part 9.27 of the Family Procedure Rules stipulates that a Form H estimate of costs should be filed and served at least one day before the date of each hearing or appointment with the Court. This should set out the total of costs incurred to date as well as the future costs to be incurred in the litigation up to the final hearing.
This ensures that both parties and the Court are made aware of the costs incurred to date, as well as flagging the potential financial implications of proceeding the matter to a final contested hearing if a negotiated settlement cannot be reached.
It is important to note that throughout the financial remedy proceedings, negotiation can take place at any time, and it is in the interest of both parties to try and reach an amicable settlement to prevent the issue of Solicitor’s fees and associated costs from eroding the value of the marital estate.
It is also important to note that in advance of the final hearing, a Form H1 Statement of Costs will also need to be filed detailing the full costs claim being made, so that the Court can decide on any final order to make in respect of financial remedy.
What is included in the Form H?
The Form H can be found here. It splits the claim for costs into several distinct sections, separating out the costs incurred to date, both before the issuance of the Form A and up to the date of the Form H. For the avoidance of doubt, incurred costs run up to the date of the next hearing to which the Form H relates, and so you may need to anticipate any future time and Counsel fees to be incurred between the time of preparing the document, and the hearing itself.
In respect of future anticipated costs, the Form H splits the estimates into one of two sections:
- Costs between the First Appointment and the Financial Dispute Resolution (FDR) hearing;
- Costs between the FDR and final hearing
It is important you obtain the input of a costs expert and also of any proposed Counsel to be instructed, to ensure you accurately calculate the future costs of the litigation, so as to avoid any financial implications on the making of any final order.
How can ARC Costs Assist?
We regularly assist Solicitors, Legal Executives and other legal professionals in a wide array of costs matters and disputes, and as independent experts we can assist either Receiving or Paying parties.
Our expertise extends to all areas of law, whether it be inter-partes disputes in civil/commercial litigation, assisting with costs in private family matters, or recovering costs from the Legal Aid Agency. Our team of experienced Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers are always on hand to assist.
If you would like advice on preparing your Form H, or in any other aspect of costs litigation (most commonly involving preparation and negotiation of a Bill of Costs or Costs Budget), please do not hesitate to get in touch with one of our costs experts at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call one of the team on 01204 397302.
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