Keep an eye on your costs!

Unfortunately, gone are the days when solicitors could simply focus their attention on best representing their client, without the need to regularly scrutinise the level of costs being incurred. Solicitors need to now multi-task or alternatively, I would suggest they get in touch with their cost draftsman.

With effect of the 1st October 2015, CPR 47.6 has been amended to alter the requirements for the commencement of detailed assessment proceedings. In cases in which a Costs Management Order has been made, a breakdown of the costs for each phase of the proceedings must be provided.

Whilst this is appears to present itself as yet another blow to receiving parties, some commentators have remarked that the new provision appears to pay no attention to Practice Direction 44 para.3.4:

On an assessment of the costs of a party, the court … may have regard to any other budget previously filed by that party, or by any other party in the same proceedings. Such other budgets may be taken into account when assessing the reasonableness and proportionality of any costs claimed.

It could be argued therefore that there appears to be a need for a breakdown whenever a budget has been served, irrespective of whether a costs management Order has been made.

Now, whilst we can toy with whether the provision is meant to include scenarios when any Cost Budget has been presented between the parties, what this does indicate is that the Court will be paying even closer attention to the work spent by solicitors and paying parties will very easily be able to tell whether parties have exceed their approved limit in the various phases. Thus not only must solicitors be conscious of the time they’re spending on the many tasks required in conducting a claim, they must set aside time monitoring the various phases to ensure that no phase exceeds the level ordered by the Court at the Cost Management Hearing.

Fortunately, we are well equipped to produce a breakdown that will meet the new requirements together with the Bill of Costs and are therefore well placed to be able to comply with the new rule.