News in brief 10th March 2016

Budgeting changes coming

The changes to the costs management rules in the CPR are to come into force on 6 April, it has been confirmed.

These are that:

·  Only the first page of Precedent H is to be exchanged and filed in cases where the value of the claims is under £50,000 or the costs are less than £25,000;
·  Claims made on behalf of a child are also excluded from the regime and, in cases where the claimant has a limited or severely impaired life expectation, the court will ordinarily disapply cost management;
·  For lower-value claims, the budget must be filed with the directions questionnaire. For other claims, it must be filed 21 days before the case management conference;
·  Agreed budget discussion reports must be filed seven days before the first hearing; and
·  Costs claimed in each phase of the proceedings are to be made available to the court when assessing costs at the end of a case.

Diamond offers free guide

The Costs Lawyer who made headlines last month with his report on how hourly rates at top City law firms were restricting “access to law” will tomorrow publish a guide that he said “aims to rectify the legal billing scandal”.

Jim Diamond’s The Client Guide to Controlling Legal Costs will be available to download for free. He said it includes new templates and software in a bid “to correct the fundamental flaws in the billing systems of law firms in England, Wales and the Channel Islands”.

Mr Diamond recounted how his guide to budgets and costs management that was published by the Law Society in 2013 was the society’s worst-ever selling publication. “The legal industry had no interest in cost control and transparency,” Mr Diamond said.

Happy past and future for Goodwin Malatesta

Essex firm Goodwin Malatesta Legal Costs Services celebrated its 10th anniversary last week with a reception. In that time, it has grown from founders Malcolm Goodwin and Dom Malatesta and one employee to support them to now having seven costs professionals, a part-time Costs Lawyer and support staff.

Mr Goodwin said the firm’s workload has shifted significantly since the Jackson reforms, before which it had handled only the occasional costs estimate. “Now approximately a third of our instructions are costs budgeting related. This has introduced the wonderful opportunity to travel to exotic county courts all over England and Wales. Not quite what I had in mind when I told my careers officer that I wanted to travel…”

He said that, with further upheaval on the way, “our Costs Lawyers are looking for a strong lead from the ACL and I am hopeful that our chair-elect, Iain Stark, will be up to that task. Certainly, my conversations with Iain give me optimism for the future of the ACL under his stewardship.

“I am confident not only that Goodwin Malatesta will continue to thrive in this changing environment, but that those Costs Lawyers and professionals who are willing to adapt and continue to maintain the highest standards of excellence will also succeed.”

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Costs News
Published date
22 Aug 2016

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