ACL chair Iain Stark issued a clear message to Costs Lawyers last week that the association was working to secure the specialism of Costs Lawyers, even when that led to conflict with the regulator.
In an address to last Friday’s ACL Annual Conference, Mr Stark said: “The year that has passed for costs professionals has the feeling of a stay, rather than a reprieve, from the impending rule changes to widen the fixed recoverable costs regime.”
But with the government preoccupied by Brexit, this was nonetheless a welcome stay, he said.
“However, as we have heard today, controlling legal costs remains an important challenge for all concerned, in particular costs professionals at the coalface set against an ever-changing world predicated on an ever-developing bank of conflicting case law,” Mr Stark said.
“When you digest the barrage of costs decisions over the past 12 months and those expected over the coming months, I strongly believe that this reinforces how we, as a profession, have a future role to play.”
Adaptation was “key” for all, which Mr Stark said has been the ACL Council’s message since his appointment in 2016. “We continue to work towards making your association fit for the modern age for costs professionals – albeit at times dragging and screaming like an impetuous child.
“As a representative arm, we are charged with promoting the interests of Costs Lawyers, which at times places the ACL in a direct conflict with the CLSB, which is tasked with protecting the public. Conflict is unfortunate but necessary, when members consider that their interests are at risk.
“It remains the remit of the ACL to hold others to account in protecting the interests of Costs Lawyers, as evidenced by our response to the [CLSB’s] consultation on the proposed truncated entry model to becoming a Costs Lawyer.”
Mr Stark concluded: “With that in mind, as your Council we are here to listen and are required to act when members consider an action by a third party diminishes, or may diminish, and harm the brand of Costs Lawyer.
“As an overriding message to all members, your Council will look to secure the specialism of Costs Lawyers as per the mandate handed down to Council in February this year.”
Also at the conference, Senior Costs Judge Master Gordon-Saker revealed that next year will see the SCCO pilot an electronic schedule of costs, as well as the introduction of the courts’ digital case management system: CE File. This will entail parties lodging bills and points of dispute electronically.
Meanwhile, Kimberley Asbury of Wilson Solicitors in London won the Edis Cup for best student at the most recent Costs Lawyer exams.
There is full coverage of the conference in the upcoming edition of Costs Lawyer magazine.