News in brief – 11.11.2021

High Court grants permission to appeal Slater & Gordon ATE ruling

The High Court has granted permission to appeal Master Rowley’s decision in Raubenheimer v Slater & Gordon, according to a tweet from the claimant’s representatives, Checkmylegalfees.

“The High Court will now consider whether the costs judge did in fact have jurisdiction to compel S&G to respond to part 18 requests about ATE premiums,” it said.

In June, Master Rowley held that the High Court, rather than a Solicitors Act assessment, was the appropriate venue to challenge the composition of an after-the-event (ATE) insurance premium.

Checkmylegalfees claims that Slater & Gordon received a secret commission from the ATE insurer Elite, which is now in administration, but Master Rowley rejected an application to compel responses to a request for further information about the premium.


Consumer panel gives strong backing to draft Costs Lawyer competency statement

The Legal Services Consumer Panel has given strong support to the Costs Lawyer Standards Board’s (CLSB) draft competency statement, which aims to “articulate the knowledge and skills that a competent Costs Lawyer is expected to possess and apply when they enter the profession”.

Responding to the CLSB’s consultation on the statement, panel chair Sarah Chambers said: “We expect some consumers will find this statement very helpful as it informs them what they have a right to expect from any practising Costs Lawyer.”

She said the panel found the skills section of the competency statement to be “particularly useful in defining, explaining the purpose of and fleshing out what each skill looks like in practice”, and welcomed the inclusion of relationship management – including empathy and managing expectations – as well as self-management as separate skills that must be learned and used on a daily basis.

Ms Chambers said the “extremely useful” list of positive attributes of how Costs Lawyers work should be applied beyond newly qualified practitioners as they “are an important element of how Costs Lawyers conduct their duties throughout their career”.

However, she said the regulator should have engaged with “some actual consumers of Costs Lawyers to obtain a clear picture of what consumers want from the Costs Lawyers they have engaged”.


Family judge warns of costs sanctions to tackle problem of inadequate time estimates

A judge has warned of the risks of costs sanctions for parties in family cases that continue to provide inadequate time estimates.

Sitting in the Central Family Court, Recorder Chandler criticised the time estimate of two to two and a half hours for an application for interim maintenance and a costs allowance. It should have been listed with a one-day estimate, he said.

In E v B (Interim Maintenance Inaccurate Time Estimate) [2021] EWFC B90, he said: “For too long, interim applications like these… have been crowbarred into inadequate time estimates, allowing the court insufficient time to consider the papers before the hearing, or sufficient time to properly review its judgment, in the context of what are often the most hotly disputed applications in financial remedy applications…

“Just as practitioners should not receive unreasonable demands from the judiciary, so judges should not be put in the sort of position this court faced in the present case: well-being is a two-way street. Realistic time estimates must be given.”

The recorder said parties “should not be placing the court in this sort of position”. If they did, he continued, “they should be aware of the possibility of adjournment and costs sanctions”.

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Costs News
Published date
11 Nov 2021

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