News in brief – 18.06.2020

Legal charities recruit to boost costs expertise

The London Legal Support Trust is recruiting Costs Lawyers to support three of its centres of excellence in London – the Mary Ward Legal Centre, Hammersmith and Fulham Law Centre and the Anti Trafficking and Labour Exploitation Unit.

They are looking for three part-time (up to 21 hours each) or one part-time and one full-time billing coordinators – paying £24-36,000 – “to develop and implement new costing and billing systems and to help increase their revenue and improve their cash flow by drafting bills; training and encouraging casework staff; working with external costs draftsmen and ensuring that their legal aid bills are compliant and maximised”.

The posts are funded by the trust and the Legal Education Foundation. The closing date is tomorrow. The full details are here.


Judge scolds paying party for QC objection

The High Court has expressed its disappointment that a paying party took “an apparently serious objection” to the receiving party’s costs on the basis that it charged for two QCs when one of them was acting as a solicitor.

His Honour Judge Matthews, sitting as a High Court judge in Bristol in Brake and Ors v Lowes and Ors [2020] EWHC 1324 (Ch), said: “As the costs defendants know well, Ian Gatt QC is not acting for Chedington as counsel, but as a solicitor, and is the partner at Stewarts with conduct of the litigation.

“A further point on counsel’s fees is the apparent objection to brief fees being charged for applications which were not heard because the strike out applications were successful. It is obvious that in such circumstances the brief fees would have been incurred and the application is fully prepared before it was known that they in fact fell away.”


High Court finds good reason not to order interim costs payment

A High Court judge has found good reason not to order a payment on account of costs of an interim application in favour of a defendant, as the money could be used to set-off the damages he may have to pay in the main action.

Les Ambassadeurs Club Ltd v Albluewi [2020] EWHC 1368 (QB) is a £2m claim by a members’ club and casino over cheques signed by the defendant that bounced. Last month, Mr Justice Freedman discharged a worldwide freezing order that had been imposed on the defendant and refused the claimant’s application to continue it, finding that the claimant had failed to establish a real risk of dissipation of assets by the defendant, who lives in Saudi Arabia.

In a follow-up ruling, he ordered the claimant pay the costs of the applications on the standard basis after a detailed assessment.

On an interim costs payment, Freedman J said: “The court will proceed on the basis that there has to be a good reason why there should not be an interim payment on the basis of a starting point under the CPR of pay as you go in interim applications, particularly where the result of the application is independent of the merits of the claim.”

But while having assets abroad was insufficient to infer a real risk of dissipation for the purposes of the applications, “in circumstances where it may be difficult to enforce a judgment (if the claimant succeeds in its claim) due to the absence of assets within the jurisdiction, the justice of the matter may be not to order an immediate payment so as to enable a set-off to occur”.

The judge – who stressed he was using the term ‘set-off’ in a non-technical way – noted that it had not been suggested that there would be any difficulty in enforcing the costs (plus interest) the other way at a later stage against the claimant, if the claim did not succeed.

Freedman J said: “In my judgment, the set-off point is a good one in the circumstances of this case. It is not a point of general application. It reflects the fact that it was effectively conceded that the claimant has a good arguable case…

“In view of the unsatisfactory features of the indebtedness referred to at paragraph 41 of the [main] judgment, and despite a real risk of dissipation of assets not being proven, the overall justice of the case is that the claimant should be able to set-off the judgment as to costs against a judgment which it will obtain if successful in its claim.”

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Costs News
Published date
18 Jun 2020

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