To mark the firm’s 10th Anniversary, we have been busy putting together top articles, notes and thoughts on all things costs related and put it together with some fantastic articles from friends on business management issues to create an ebook.
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Third Party Costs Orders
Third Party Funding
In the constant struggle between good & evil, right & wrong, Claimant & Defendant, and hot on the heels of the claimant friendly judgement of Simcoe v Jacuzzi (aka A New Hope) came a judgement too late to squeeze into our Carlisle Legal Costing – Legal Services Guide (available free on request).
The long held principle is that if a child is injured, the case proceeds in the normal way save that at the conclusion of negotiations, part 8 proceedings are commenced and the court approval sought. If damages were less than £1000, nothing to worry about as by virtue of a quirk of law, all cases proceeding under part 8 are allocated to the multi-track. This resulted in costs being assessed on the standard basis. That was the case until the court of appeal handed down judgement in Dockerill v Tullett in which the court has now ruled that it should only be the case that a reasonable fee for advising is recoverable.
My political views are generally neutral in that I am happy to criticise both sides – a bit like the Jedi Knights kept things in balance.
But this has to be bad news for access to justice. Before there was certainty, but possibly due to a minority being greedy causing the insurance empire to turn its focus to this issue, it has been spoilt for the majority. It can only be hoped that someone with common sense can lift the mask off the powers that be as did Luke Skywalker, and let light shine in to the infighting between the rebel alliance and the bloated Empire and calm will ensue. Sadly first, it would appear Lord Jackson needs throwing from his Death Star first.
Hot on the heels of the Claimant friendly judgement of Simcoe v Jacuzzi, comes the murmurs that the Defendants are to appeal.
Also in the news, Prime Minister David Cameron has “committed the government” to reducing the RTA portal costs of £1200 payable to Claimant Solicitors along with suggesting that a minimum impact speed will be necessary to establish a claim for whiplash.
Lets think about this. The aim is to reduce costs. However, this will surely mean more Claimant Solicitors seeking to escape the portal thus satellite litigation about premature issue etc. More costs incurred. Secondly, more satellite litigation over the speed of impact – he says he was doing 30mph, she said it was more like 10 mph. More increased costs with the crash investigators being called out.
So two suggestions by David Cameron to reduce costs will in all probability increase costs. Objective failed.
When will people actually realise when they are actually better off, or have achieved the best possible result, and just need to get on with things. It reminds me of when Claims Direct first came to power with an insurance premium of circa £1215 with no success fee. The insurance industry cried foul and brought down the house of Claims Direct. This was replaced with the house of staged premiums and success fees for PI work. If the Master of the Rolls thinks £75k for costs is bad as was the case in Simcoe, just seen a case where the premium alone was £75k for damages of £20k and costs of circa £20k. Oh how the insurers wish they hadn’t killed Claims Direct Mk I (ie not the RJW incarnation).
The decision in Simcoe v Jacuzzi UK Group PLC  EWCA Civ 137 is now available.
The outcome was that interest on costs runs from the date of judgement in all cases whether they be funded under a CFA or otherwise, to include third party funding.
The issue on the appeal concerned the date from which interest should run on an award of costs in favour of a successful claimant, whose legal representatives were retained under a conditional fee agreement (a ‘CFA’), in a personal injury claim brought in the County Court. The background was that the claimant, Mr Simcoe, was employed by the defendant, Bradford Jacuzzi UK, for the purpose of assembling shower cubicles. By 2005, he was suffering pain as a result of the repetitive nature of the work involved. In that connection, he instructed Irwin Mitchell Solicitors LLP to act for him in proceedings for damages against the defendant. Irwin Mitchell agreed to act under a conditional fee (often known as ‘no win no fee’) basis, and in due course the claimant entered into a conditional fee agreement (a ‘CFA’) on 5 October 2007. Following an agreement being reached between the parties regarding costs, District Judge Hill was requested to rule whether interest should run on those costs from the date of the settlement of the damages claim or the date of settlement of the claim for costs. District Judge Hill summarily found that the case of Gray v Toner should apply, and he ruled that the interest should run from the latter date based on the Allocatur Rule.
An appeal was taken and due to its importance, was transferred to the Court of Appeal. On Appeal various points were taken and the The Master of The Rolls found in favour of the Claimant and ruled that the interest runs on costs from the date of judgement – the incipitur rule applies and issued a note of warning to all with regards to continued satellite litigation over costs “which would do the legal system no credit”.
Everyone has at least one difficult client, or problem child. You generally know the type- they actually cost you more time, effort or profit than you can ever hope to recover from the other side. It may be that they were once a good client who due to financial difficulties or a change in personnel have fallen into the category, or it may be that they are a new client who are hyper-sensitive, always on the phone and very needy.
Do you really need them as clients?
Would the fact that they are ensuring that a fee earner is being kept busy justify the continued acceptance of instructions?
Would ceasing to accept their instruction breach client care regulations?
Careful thought must be given to these ‘problem children’ as it may be that taking the fee earner off the case and allocating them a role in obtaining new and better clients would be a better action plan. Remember, on assessment the judge dealing with the costs have generally been there, seen it all before and believe everything is simple so you may not recover the increased time spent with the client.
Early identification is vital to enable a plan to be put in place to either repair the relationship, improve the profitability or sever the ties.
There are no easy answers to this albeit we have some ideas, remedies and anecdotes, but doing nothing about problem clients is not an option as just like problem children, they generally only get worse unless action is taken.
Coaches & managers are in the news at the moment, particularly with regards to England Football and England Rugby. For what its worth, my view is that England Rugby set up has it right with appointing an overall head coach, with a Defence coach, forwards coach, attack coach – experts in the relevant field. Looking at the football side, why not have a central figurehead, with coaches such as Southgate and Pearce, not just training England as and when required, but then going to clubs up and down the country preaching the England way – how England want to do things, getting the message right and inspiring players to develop. I adopt the experts method when coaching my under 11s rugby team, with a fitness coach, forwards coach and backs coach and someone overlooking to ensure that all players develop equally and to the best of their ability.
It is clear that having the right support, expertise and coaching is vital in business as well as on the sports field. In order to survive over the next few years, law firms need to surround themselves with the correct support team. The most important is someone concentrating solely on funding, profitability and costs. It still surprises me how many solicitors only think about the client’s interests. This is admirable, but you cannot support/protect your client with nothing in the bank. However, not all firms can employ someone full time to do this, so why don’t you outsource to the experts?
We have 10 years experience in doing exactly what all firms need to concentrate on – money. Let us ensure that you can protect your clients knowing that your cashflow is secure, that someone is protecting your interests, that your retainers, funding arrangements, costs recovery and reputation are preserved, protected and underwritten by the best provider – Carlisle Legal Costing.
Carlisle Legal Costing has been operating for ten years this month. During the last ten years we have been involved with many types of legal practice – new start-ups, changes of practice from criminal to PI, sole practitioners & large multi-national businesses. We have acquired many unique skills and contacts along the way.
What better background could there be for helping businesses grow and/or turnaround – being experts in profitability, case management, funding, retainers and finance. If you would like to discuss any of our unique talents and how they may be of assistance to you and your firm, then do not waste a single second and contact us on 01228 635545 or email firstname.lastname@example.org