N244 (Application Notice): Common Costs Applications

 

 

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What is Form N244?

Form N244 is a standard form used by the Courts in England and Wales. It’s an application notice that parties can use to make various types of applications to the court. These applications can range from procedural matters to substantive issues within a legal case.

In the context of legal costs, Form N244 may be used to make an application related to costs, such as requesting an interim payment on account of costs, an Unless Order, or even to secure a costs order itself. It’s a way for parties to formally request the Court’s intervention or decision on matters related to the financial aspects of a legal case.

 

N244 Application for a Costs Order

A costs order refers to a Court’s decision on which party is responsible for paying the legal costs incurred during a legal proceeding. The party who wins a case or is successful on certain issues may be entitled to have their costs paid by the losing party.

Usually an order for costs is made on the conclusion of a case, but in some unusual circumstances, it is not a given that a costs order has been made, and a proactive application must be made for the same.

To make an application for a costs order, a party typically fills out Form N244. This form provides information about the case, the parties involved, and the specific relief being sought, which, in this case, is a costs order.  The Applicant will be required to set out the order of events, possibly with the support of a witness statement, and set out the reason why a costs order should be made in their favour.  Pursuant to CPR 44.2(2)(a), the usual rule is that an unsuccessful party should pay the costs of a successful party.

 

N244 Application for an Interim Payment on Account of Costs

An N244 application for an interim payment on account of costs is used by parties in a legal case to request an interim payment toward their legal costs before the final determination of the entire case. Typically such an order should be made at the point of any final order in the substantive action, but if a matter has been settled by way of Part 36, then the opportunity to have the Court consider an appropriate interim payment will not have arisen.

Typically on service of a Bill of Costs a Paying Party should consider raising an interim payment on account of costs, to reduce the burden of interest accruing.  However, some Paying Parties may not wish to entertain an interim payment, either for a genuine reason or to financially frustrate the Receiving Party.

If an agreement cannot be reached for payment, then an application for interim payment can be considered.  If the Court has not yet considered the issue, then it is possible to make an application pursuant to CPR 44.2(8) however, such applications are often made after a request for assessment has been filed, as the allowance to make such an application is specifically provided for at this time pursuant to CPR 47.16 for an interim costs certificate.

To request an interim payment on account of costs, the party seeking the payment would typically use Form N244. This form is submitted to the Court along with relevant supporting documents explaining the basis for the request. The Applicant needs to demonstrate that they have incurred costs that warrant an interim payment, with common law decisions on the point indicating in standard cases that between 50 – 90% of claimed costs should be permitted on account, with the latter based upon such costs being subject to costs budgeting.

 

N244 Application for an Unless Order to Strike out a Claim for Costs

An Unless Order is a type of court order that sets out that “unless” a specific condition or requirement is met by a certain deadline, the specified consequence takes effect, often being in the form of the strike out of the claim (for costs in this instance).

If a party believes that the opposing party’s claim for costs is improper, unjustified, or lacks legal basis, they may seek to have that claim struck out, though such submissions are usually raised in Points of Dispute. Striking out a claim means having it removed from consideration in the legal proceedings.

However, such applications for an Unless Order are most common in costs proceedings for a Receiving Party failing to adhere to deadlines provided for in CPR 47.8 or CPR 47.14.  These provisions stipulate that a Bill of Costs should be served within 3 months of a costs instrument being made, and lodged for assessment 3 months thereafter.  Failure to adhere to these timescales is not detrimental in itself to the Receiving Party, but it does ‘open the door’ for a Paying Party, on notice, to make an application to strike out the claim for costs.

To seek an Unless Order to strike out a claim for costs, the Applicant would again typically use Form N244, with a statement setting out the chronology of events to date, timescales that have passed, and notice given to the other side.  Failure however, to notify the Receiving Party of the intention to file such an application will be viewed dimly by the Court, and can have adverse costs consequences.  If applying, the N244 form is submitted to the Court along with supporting documents that outline the grounds on which the claim for costs is being challenged.

In this context, the Unless Order would set a condition that the opposing party must meet within a specified timeframe. For example, the condition might be that the opposing party needs to serve their Bill of Costs with Notice of Commencement in a certain time period, or lodge for assessment by a specific date. If they fail to meet this condition within the given time, the consequence specified in the Unless Order (striking out of the claim for costs) would take effect.

 

Other Costs N244 Applications

 

Applications can be made for a wide range of other cost related issues, including but not exhaustive of:

Part 36 Judgment & Costs – Part 36 offers are formal settlement offers made in accordance with Part 36 of the CPR. If you, as the offeror, have made a valid Part 36 offer and the offeree (the opposing party) has not accepted the offer, you can apply for judgment under Part 36 using Form N244 pursuant to CPR 36.14(7).

Set Aside a Default Costs Certificate – If a Default Costs Certificate has been obtained unreasonably, then so long as good reason can be provided to set aside the order, an application can be made to do so and restore the assessment proceedings to challenge the bill.  If the application is not consented to, such applications can be quite expensive and require an attended hearing to confirm why it would be appropriate to set aside the DCC, in line with the Denton Test specifications.  

Fixed Costs Assessment – Assessments of fixed costs under CPR 45 do not follow the same process as a detailed assessment typically.  If a matter settles pursuant to CPR 36.20, then an N244 application can be made for a fixed costs assessment pursuant to CPR 36.20(11).

 

Applications for Provisional/Detailed Assessment

Though these are referred to as applications, requests for assessment do not actually require an N244.  A provisional assessment is a simplified review of legal costs by the Court in England and Wales, mainly used for straightforward or lower-value cases. It allows parties to have their costs assessed without a full detailed assessment and on the papers only, helping to expedite the process.

The process for applying for a Provisional Assessment differs from other common costs applications in that the Form N244 is not used. To initiate a provisional assessment, the party seeking the assessment typically fills out Form N258. This form provides information about the case, the parties involved, and the costs that are being disputed.

 

How can ARC Costs Assist?

ARC Costs are a team of expert Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers who regularly act as independent costs experts, for either paying or receiving parties. We can assist in preparing all types of costs applications,  Bills of Costs or Costs Budgets, as well as negotiating the best costs outcome. We also specialise in preparing Points of Dispute and Points of Reply, and as costs advocates, we can provide representation at any CCMC or during detailed assessment proceedings.

Should you wish ARC Costs to assist you in a costs matter relating to a costs issue, or if you just have a query, you may contact us on 01204 397302 or email one of our experts at info@arccosts.co.uk

 

 

 

 

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