News in brief – 03.05.2018

LAA asks Costs Lawyers how long they spend on CCMS

The ACL’s Legal Aid Group (LAG) has been asked by the Legal Aid Agency to provide survey results for the average times taken to complete tasks on its Client and Costs Management System (CCMS), including bills, ahead of amendments to its Costs Assessment Guidance to include allowance for time spent carrying out tasks on CCMS.

The survey will be open until 28 May and the LAG is asking as many people as possible to participate. It has 21 questions and asks about time for applications, preparing POAs, reporting outcomes and the variety of bills.

The questions on bills are split into two parts, the first being whether Costs Lawyers use Claim Upload or the CCMS interface. The LAG asks members to complete this question so that the average times given can be qualified by whether you have to use your own software to achieve them.

The task times do not include time for uploading documents and allocating costs limitations. This is because, while selecting enclosures and checking counsel’s fee notes/considering costs limitation is not administrative, uploading those documents and allocation the costs limitations are and do not need to be carried out by a fee-earner.

To complete the survey, click here.

 

Yorkshire Costs Lawyers meeting up today

The Yorkshire regional group meeting is being held this evening. Members are invited to attend for a discussion on current costs issues, case law developments and the new electronic bill of costs.

The event is hosted by Clarion Solicitors (Elizabeth House, 13-19 Queen Street, Leeds, LS1 2TW), from 5pm, with the meeting starting at 5.30pm for an hour. There will then be an opportunity to network with other attendees.

To reserve your place, please email Laura.Courbet@Clarionsolicitors.com

 

Deputy master “cannot ask costs judge” to determine who pays costs of hearings

A deputy master erred in law in directing that a costs judge should determine who should pay the costs of hearings that had been reserved to the deputy master, the High Court has ruled.

According to a report on Lawtel of Old Street Homes Ltd and Anr v Chelsea Bridge Apartments Ltd and Anr – which concerned the distribution of money from the sale of a property – after several hearings the master refused to grant the respondents permission to file particulars of claim out of time and their claim was struck out. In deciding costs, the master generally ordered that the respondents should pay the appellants’ costs on the indemnity basis. However, he directed that liability for disputed costs which had previously been reserved should be determined by a costs judge on detailed assessment. As their case had been struck out, under rule 44.4 the respondents would have paid the costs if he had made no direction.

The appellants submitted that a costs judge had no power to decide who should pay the costs of the hearings where costs had been reserved to the master. They submitted that section 51 of the Senior Courts Act 1981 stated that costs were for the discretion of the “court”, and that rule 2.4 defined “the court” as any judge, master, registrar in bankruptcy or district judge, and therefore did not include costs judges. They submitted that the role of costs judges was to assess the amount of costs, but that they had no power to decide which party was to pay costs.

The respondents submitted that costs for the discretion of the “court” meant any judge of the court, including a costs judge. They further argued that the determination of who paid the costs, and the amount, flowed into each other, as a costs judge would refine the items on a bill of costs, which was tantamount to denying costs.

Allowing the appeal, Judge Kramer QC ruled that, where there was no costs order, there was no authority to begin the costs procedure. At the same time, part 47 could not operate if the definition of a court could not include a costs judge.

The Lawtel report continued: “The key reason why the master could not direct that a costs judge should deal with the matter was because there were two different proceedings. The costs proceedings before the master were different proceedings from the assessment of costs. Part 44 called the latter ‘detailed assessment proceedings’ and the way they were determined was different. The master had been dealing with the costs proceedings.

“Since the costs judge was not seised with those proceedings, he could not decide which party should pay costs. The pre-requisite for a costs judge to have jurisdiction were that costs proceedings had to be issued, and that required an order for detailed assessment to be started under part 47. The matter could not come before a costs judge without an order for costs, as otherwise nobody would have determined the status of the receiving and paying party.

“As the master had directed that somebody who had no jurisdiction to determine who should pay costs should make the costs order, the order had been wrong in law and was set aside.

Alexander Goold represented the appellants and Andrew Morrell the respondents.

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Costs News
Published date
02 May 2018

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