Kerry Underwood

COURT RIGHT SUMMARILY TO DISMISS GENERIC OBJECTIONS IN SOLICITOR-CLIENT ASSESSMENT

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The matters dealt with in this piece are examined in great detail in my three volume, 1,300 page book Personal Injury Small Claims, Portals and Fixed Costs – price £50 and available from Underwoods Solicitors here.

Kerry Underwood offers consultancy services in relation to this and other matters and details are here.

In

Ainsworth v Stewarts Law LLP [2019] 2 WLUK 407 (26 February 2019)

The High Court held that the Senior Costs Judge was entitled summarily to dismiss the appellant’s challenge to the solicitors’ profit costs of work done on documents, totalling £64,000.

The solicitors’ costs breakdown contained three schedules itemising their work on documents; specifying, for each item, the date, work, time spent and fee earner.

The appellant’s points of dispute stated that all schedule entries were disputed, citing significant fee earner duplication and excessive time spent.

The appellant reserved his position in relation to making further and more detailed representations at court.

The High Court noted that CPR 46.10 governed the procedure for solicitor-client detailed assessment, but was silent on the form and content of points of dispute.

However, Practice Direction 47.8.2 relating to detailed assessment required them to be “short and to the point”, to follow Precedent G and to identify specific points, concisely stating the nature and grounds of dispute.

Here, the Master had been entitled to conclude that neither the solicitors nor the court knew the case that the solicitors had to meet on the individual items.

Because of this, the parties were not on an equal footing, the hearing would at best have been adjourned part-heard, and costs consequences would have ensued.

The Master’s decision summarily to dismiss the appellant’s objections was a robust but proportionate response where the appellant’s points of dispute failed to further the overriding objective.

Under the old Costs Practice Direction, the provisions about the form and content of points of dispute were incorporated by reference in the provisions relating to solicitor-client assessment, which is not the case now.

However, the judge did not need to decide this issue, having focused, instead, on case management and the overriding objective.

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Written by kerryunderwood

June 5, 2019 at 8:57 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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