How have the Jackson reforms changed the way you approach your client’s claim?
Do you now consider the level of costs that have already been incurred more than you previously did? Do you consider the prospect of recovery before instructing that further expert? What about proportionality?
I have recently been instructed to prepare bills of costs for several different Solicitors, and one common thread through all their files is that their minds have been sharpened to focus on recoverability of the costs being incurred from the paying party, with recoverability encompassing reasonableness, proportionality and necessity. Examples of this are:
A contract dispute where quantum was in the region of £15,000. The Solicitor focused on proportionality. Throughout the file, telephone notes with their client repeatedly showed discussions warning of the risk of the costs becoming disproportionate.
A clinical negligence matter showed a Solicitor explaining to their client that the timing of instructing a medical expert was crucial if the costs were to be recovered. This Solicitor recommended an early ‘without prejudice’ exchange of breach of duty evidence with the Defendant prior to gathering more evidence, explaining that the additional costs may not be recovered if this step was omitted.
An application for Judicial Review showed the Solicitor explaining to their privately paying client the likely costs to be incurred, and the estimated fees of recommended Counsel, giving their client the option to use alternative Counsel should they so wish.
All three examples demonstrated the Solicitors discussing the costs with their client. Having worked in legal costs for over 10 years, this is a major shift in communication that certainly stands out in current times. With the Solicitor increasingly turning to their client for any shortfall in costs recovery, and with Solicitor/Client costs disputes on the rise, it is crucial that a Solicitor’s mind is focused on costs. This emphasis on costs needs to be regularly communicated to clients throughout the case to ensure maximum recoverability of the costs of the work undertaken, be it from the paying party or their client.
If you have any questions or queries in relation this blog please contact Joanne Chase (firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 336 3327) or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 2460622.