News in brief: Judge rejects law firm’s bid for cracked trial fee, Frenkel Topping praises costs firm

28 September 2022

Firearms offences: Single indictment, judge rules

Costs judge rejects law firm’s bid for cracked trial fee

A costs judge has rejected a criminal defence firm’s appeal against the Legal Aid Agency disallowing a cracked trial fee, agreeing with the determining officer that there were not two indictments in the case.

Harris Solicitors represented John Doyle and Dean Doyle. Both initially faced one charge (count 1), with John Doyle a further two. Later, the prosecution applied to add a new count of to the indictment (count 4), which was applied to the defendants jointly. They related to the use of a firearm.

John Doyle pleaded not guilty to count 1 and guilty to the other three. Dean Doyle pleaded not guilty to counts 1 and 4. The prosecution elected not to pursue count 1 against either and a jury found Dean Doyle guilty on count 4.

The solicitors submitted a claim for a trial fee and a cracked trial fee. The determining officer assessed that only a single trial fee was payable and awarded costs of £108,000 on the basis of a five-day trial. A cracked trial fee of £36,000 was disallowed.

On appeal, Costs Judge Nagalingam observed that “in determining whether two case fees are payable, the key issue is whether there was more than one indictment, because the appeal fails if the appellant fails to demonstrate there was more than one indictment”.

Here the court log showed, “and consistent with the submissions heard”, that there was one set of proceedings against the two named defendants, and one indictment.

The judge concluded: “In R v Wharton (SCCO ref: SC-2020-CRI-000195), at paragraph 13, it was observed ‘The fact that two separate documents have been uploaded rather than annotating the original indictment in some fashion is simply how modern technology is likely to be employed. Ease of practice dictates this approach as was confirmed by the trial judge. It does not enable further claims to be made for fees in respect of what is very much the same work…’.

“The manner in which the appellant seeks to treat the different iterations of the same indictment strikes me as an invitation to permit further claims be made for what is very much the same work. It is an invitation I decline to accept. The appeal is dismissed.”

Frenkel Topping praises impact of costs firm on group’s training infrastructure

Frenkel Topping – the specialist financial and professional services firm operating within the personal injury and clinical negligence market – has praised the impact of Bidwell Henderson, one of the costs firms it bought last year.

The £1.5m acquisition of Bidwell Henderson in August 2021 followed the £9m swoop earlier that year on Partners in Costs and A&M Bacon as part of Frenkel Topping’s strategy of

In its interim results this week, the AIM-listed business aid: “The group’s talent mapping scheme was bolstered with the acquisition of Bidwell Henderson in 2021 – who had developed their own digital training platform to train cost drafts people. Bringing BH’s years of experience in training into the group has allowed us to professionalise our training division further and extend its reach across all departments inside the group businesses.”

There was no other mention of Frenkel Topping’s costs work within the results, which showed turnover up 31% to £11m and gross profit up 11% to £5m. However, in the 2021 results issued earlier this year, it hailed the three firms’ role in helping the group to create a pre-settlement supply chain in personal injury and clinical negligence, that in turn is meant to feed its investment management business.

Speaking this week, chief executive Richard Fraser said: “Over the first half of 2022, we have continued to see the cumulative positive impact of our recent acquisitions and the effectiveness of integrating the new group businesses in close succession, maximising the clear synergies that exist in cross-sell opportunities, shared data, resource and marketing opportunities at group level.

“The continued successful implementation of the group’s strategy, to consolidate the fragmented and niche sector of personal injury and clinical negligence, has highlighted further opportunities for growth and the effective integration of acquisitions in recent years has provided the blueprint for similar acquisitions to join the group in a seamless and positive way.

“Frenkel Topping continues to strengthen its reputation as a full-service provider with multiple touch points across the space that allow us to scale routes into growing [assets under management] mandates from successful claims.”

Bookings for London conference now open

Members can now book for the ACL London conference on Friday 4 November, which is being held at the Kia Oval in south London.

The keynote speaker will be Sir Colin Birss, the deputy head of civil justice, chair of the Civil Procedure Rule Committee and chair of the Civil Justice Council’s costs working group. Masters Francesca Kaye and Victoria McCloud will also be speaking, with many more key figures in the costs world to be confirmed.

This is always a must-attend event and you can book your ticket here.

Application window opens for units 2 and 3 of Costs Lawyer training course

ACL Training has opened the application window for applicants eligible for unit 2 and 3 of the current course, starting in January 2023. The window is open until 30 November 2022 and full eligibility criteria and application forms are available here.

Further information about the current course is also available at here. Those joining the existing course as part of the unit 2 intake will be transferred to the new course when it is launched in 2023 and will complete their qualification through that route.

Those joining the unit 3 intake will be able to complete their qualification under the existing route. Queries about the existing course and application process or about the new course should be sent to aclt@lawcabs.ac.uk

CJC extends deadline for costs consultation responses

The Civil Justice Council has extended by two weeks the closing date for responses to its consultation on costs. The closing date is now midday on Friday 14 October.

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28 Sep 2022

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