‘Notional’ costs order for winning party that failed to serve costs schedule

The High Court has given a winning party who failed to provide a costs schedule a “notional” costs order of £5,000 rather than send the matter to detailed assessment.

Mr Justice Dove was ruling at the end of an unsuccessful appeal by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) against a suspension handed out to solicitor Mohammed Imran. The SRA had argued that he should have been struck off.

In an exchange included at the end of the ruling – published this week even though the ruling was handed down in July – Mr Imran’s counsel, Greg Treverton-Jones QC asked for costs but said: “To my embarrassment, there is no costs schedule produced by those instructing me so I would ask for a detailed assessment.”

“Lord Justice Jackson would probably suggest that I assess them at zero,” Dove J replied. Geoffrey Williams QC, for the SRA, said that as no schedule had been served, the SRA had no notice “other than by implication” that an application would be made.

He continued: “Secondly, the appeal in my submission was properly brought in the public interest. The SRA is a public interest regulator. The profession supports it financially. These cases are important and this case falls into that category. In my submission, it would be inhibitive… if they were discouraged from pursuing such appeals as this for the benefit of the public and the profession.”

He also argued that such matters should be dealt with on the day by summary assessment, not putting the parties to the further costs of detailed assessment. “That is the whole basis of the regime. So I would ask my Lord to consider that the right order in this case is that each party should pay their own costs.”

Dove J ruled that he was not willing to order a detailed assessment “because it seems to me that is simply going to add further to the costs of the parties. I also take the view there is some force in what Mr Williams says about public interest in these appeals being heard”.

But he concluded: “However, it does seem to me that the respondent having been successful, I should assess costs. And I am going to do so in a notional figure of £5,000. That is the best I can do. Adding to the costs of the proceedings by ordering detailed assessment seems to me to be quite disproportionate.”

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19 Aug 2016

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