News in brief – 30.05.2019

CPS makes record costs payout

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has agreed to pay what is said to be the largest costs claim made by defendants under section 19 of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985.

It is paying some £4m to nine individuals charged with criminal offences, including conspiracy to cheat the revenue, before the case collapsed 18 months later, in April 2017.

The CPS has since admitted a series of improper acts and or omissions, as required under section 19, including a fundamental failure of the disclosure process and failures to follow some reasonable lines of inquiry during the course of the investigation.

Unusually, the application was to recover all reasonable costs incurred by the claimants from start to finish. The CPS accepted that, given the admitted failings and stark admissions, it was not in a position to resist the application.

 

High Court refuses to transfer fees claim to SCCO

An action by solicitors to recover their fees from current and former trustees should continue in the Commercial Court and should not be stayed in favour of proceedings in the Senior Courts Costs Office or to allow the claim against the former trustees to await the outcome of the claim against the current trustees, the High Court has ruled.

According to a Lawtel report of Stephenson Harwood LLP v (1) Geneva Trust Co SA (Formerly Rawlinson and Hunter Trustees) (2) Fort Trustees Ltd (3) Balchan Management Ltd, Mr Justice Teare ruled that the second and third defendants’ application for the matter to be heard in the SCCO faced two main difficulties.

“First, it was premised on an argument that the whole matter could be decided by the costs judge, but it was accepted that allegations of professional negligence against the claimant and the second and third defendants’ counterclaim for wrongful termination of the retainer were not suitable to be heard by a costs judge.

“Secondly, although the SCCO could determine issues other than those relating to quantum and assessment, many of the issues raised, such as issues of authority and breach of duty, the extent of the trustees’ liability in light of Investec v Glenalla, and liability under the March 2018 agreement, were better suited to determination in the Commercial Court.

“The better course in accordance with the overriding objective would be for the Commercial Court to deal with all issues of liability, including the question whether the relevant bills were “statute bills”, and for the costs judge then to decide any issues of assessment.”

Ben Hubble QC (instructed by Stephenson Harwood LLP) for the claimant, Andrew Fulton (instructed by Temple Bright) for the first defendant, and Nicholas Bacon QC and Simon Teasdale (instructed by Grosvenor Law) for the second and third defendants.

 

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Costs News
Published date
30 May 2019

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