Surviving in practice

Looking through ‘The Community Legal Service (Funding) (Amendment No.2) Order 2011’ The Community Legal Service (Funding) (Amendment No.2) 2011 you wonder a) how on earth do people make sense of this, and b) how did we end up here. When starting out as a trainee costs draftsman, excluding criminal law, I had 2 tables to refer to – civil rates and family rates – which occupied a couple of pages in my now battered Cook on Costs. Now we have 16 pages. Its kind of like the Budget which used to occupy a few pages and now you need a wooden crate.

Why does a neurosurgeon in London get less per hour than one in the provinces? Why do we pay so relatively little to people dealing with vulnerable children?

Likewise, how complicated can they make the LASPO Bill. It emerged, following a panicked response from the MOJ that the amendments proposed by The House of Lords last week were purely to bring into the equation Collective Conditional Fee Agreements, which may otherwise have been omitted. It was not intended that the proposed disallowance of recovery between the parties of the success fee would be retrospective.

 

It is therefore imperative that law firms retain high quality costs lawyers and costs draftsmen to help firms wade through the quagmire of paperwork to remain in practice and remain profitable.  Why not inquire how we can help, book a seminar on costs related issues, or instruct us to sort out your case management issues.

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LSC Costs Recovery Action Success

The Legal Services Commission has successfully obtained judgment on the rights to recover payments on account made under the Legal Aid Act 1988 – LSC v Loomba and others [2012] EWHC 29 (QB), Cranston J.

The case involved three claims listed together as test cases. All three claims concerned moneys which the LSC asserted were owing to it by solicitors as a result of legal aid payments to them on account of work being undertaken for clients in civil cases. The Commission contended that the claims were authorised by law. Since it concedes that there were no express legislative power to make the claims, its argument raised some difficult issues of statutory interpretation. If the claims cannot be legislatively justified the Commissions advanced other legal bases for them, including restitution. The defendants contended that there was no legislative authorisation for the Commission’s actions, and in any event the claims are defeated by various defences. They also submitted that the Commission’s claims fail for public law reasons including the unfairness with which they have been pursued.

Judgment was entitled to recoup the payments on account in the manner it has pursuant to the incidental power in section 4(1) (b) of the 1988 Act.

This case highlights the need for lawyers reporting properly to the LSC, particularly when winding up a practice, and involving costs experts to prepare the appropriate bills of costs and claim forms to ensure costs are accounted for.