News in brief 26th March 2015

Rolfe joins Overtons

Philip Rolfe, who headed the costs department at City firm Clyde & Co, has left to join Kent firm Overtons Costs Consultants Ltd (OCCL).

Mr Rolfe said: “Having managed the in-house costs department at Clyde & Co since 1994 and having taken it through a period of significant expansion following the merger with Barlow Lyde & Gilbert in 2011, I felt I was in need of a fundamental change and a fresh challenge.

“I believe OCCL offers me that. My background has always had particular emphasis on commercial, insurance and shipping matters in a variety of fora, both domestic and overseas. I had a desire to get back to the coalface and take on, once more, some of the practical day-to-day challenges facing a commercial Costs Lawyer. I am hoping that I can utilise my experience to the benefit of the practice at OCCL, both in a practical and in a developmental way.”

OCCL’s Nick Overton added: “To have someone of Philip’s experience and ability join OCCL its tenth year is an exciting development for us. We welcome him on board with a view to continuing and enhancing the service that we are able to provide to domestic and international clients alike.”

Commercial Court fires costs warning to deter overly long pleadings

Adverse costs orders are needed to ensure that lawyers in the Commercial Court do not overlook the requirements around pleadings, a judge said last week.

The Commercial Court Guide says statements of case should not exceed 25 pages unless the court is presented with a very good reason to allow a longer one, along with guidance on what they should include.

Ruling in Tchenguiz & Ors v Thornton UK LLP & Ors [2015] EWHC 405 (Comm), Mr Justice Leggatt said: “The particulars of claim which have been served in the present case flout all these principles. They are 94 pages in length. They include background facts, evidence and polemic in a way which makes it hard to identify the material facts and complicates, instead of simplifying, the issues.” Further, the claimants only sought the court’s permission to serve a statement of case longer than 25 pages retrospectively.

Having made the four counsel who signed it and the claimants’ solicitor explain themselves, Leggatt J said that unless adverse costs orders are made “in cases of flagrant non-compliance, practitioners who are well aware of the principles of pleading and the provisions of the Commercial Court Guide will continue to overlook them, as happened here”.

He rejected arguments that the particulars did not have to be re-pleaded, ordering that they be struck out and the costs of drafting them disallowed, and that fresh particulars no longer than 45 pages should be served within 21 days.

Leggatt J concluded: “I have shown this judgment in draft to the judge in charge of the Commercial List [Mr Justice Flaux], who endorses the principle that flagrant disregard of the guidance applicable to statements of case may lead to adverse costs orders.”

Paragon on the up

Bristol-based Paragon Costs Solutions has doubled its turnover in the last year and now employs 20 people less than four years since opening its doors, the firm announced last week.

Managing director Nick Lee said: “Our focus on building long-term relationships with clients has led to continued and increasing instructions in a number of practice areas, including clinical negligence, property litigation, private client disputes and professional negligence. This has created an opportunity for us to shape our recruitment strategy around the needs of our clients to ensure they receive advice from genuine specialists.”

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11 Mar 2015

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