As many hard-working solicitors are focused on ensuring their clients get the best service, it is possible for them to lose sight of their own costs. Here is a refresher guide to the procedure for getting paid.
The Payment Process
The process begins when the anniversary of the Order/matter completes, and the files are sent to your Costs Lawyer or Law Costs Draftsman; at Clarion, we offer the expertise of both. It is good practice to do this annually, as close to the end of the annual management year as possible (Section 6 of PD19B). This means that no costs are lost if there is an overlap period from the previous months or years.
Secondly, whilst the file is with your trusted Costs Lawyer or Law Costs Draftsman, the Bill of Costs is prepared. A Detailed Bill is required for matters with profit costs exceeding £3,000 and a Short Form Bill is needed for matters with profit costs lower than £3,000. There is no difference in the procedure for the bills – the difference in their names reflects their differing length and the amount of detail that they contain.
The Bill of Costs is then completed and, along with supporting documents, filed with the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) for assessment, after which its returned by the SCCO to your lawyer.
Process for reassessment
Upon reviewing the assessment, if you are unhappy with it, you can lodge a request for reassessment with the SCCO. Here at Clarion, we are more than happy to review any assessments and consider an appeal; we can also lodge the request for reassessment on your behalf. Please get in touch with a member of our Costs Team to find out more.
The process for the request for reassessment is as follows:
- If you are unhappy with the outcome of the assessment, you can request a reassessment within 14 days of the original assessment.
- The Bill of Costs is returned to the Costs Officer for reconsideration in respect of the points appealed.
- The Costs Officer will generally accept where they have made an error. They base their assessment on the points raised before them, so these points need to be justified; Costs Officers have been known to be unpredictable.
- If you are still unhappy with the assessment, you can proceed to an oral hearing before a Costs Master, but be aware that this can be an expensive and timely process.
When you are happy with the assessment outcome, copies of the assessed Bill of Costs are served on the interested parties (if applicable) who have 14 days to challenge the Bill.
Once the assessment is finalised then a Costs Summary can be completed and filed with the SCCO, allowing the Costs Certificate to be drawn, and you to get paid.
Then the procedure will repeat, as and when the time period (annually) completes, although there are various scenarios which would result in changes to the process as described above. In these circumstances, get in contact with our team and we can assist, where necessary, to ensure that you are paid.
Joshua Sidding is a Paralegal in the Court of Protection Team of the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact him at Joshua.firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 222 3245, or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 246 0622.
You can also take advantage of our free telephone advice service – available outside of office hours – by calling 07764 501252.