Page 14 - PIC-Magazine-Issue-22-Spring-Summer
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  Total Timeline +
Costs. The thing that, ironically, delays you being paid after years of effort bringing your case to a successful conclusion. Historically, costs have been left until the end, once everything has crystallised and you, the lawyer, can hand your papers to that slightly odd fellow who will, at some point, tell you how much of your work will be realised as a payment.
All very traditional. All very analogue. All very slow.
 he further beyond the year 2000 we move however, the more that slightly odd fellow has changed, the law on costs has changed, the importance of costs has changed, the time it
takes to resolve costs has changed and yet, for some reason, its location at the end never has. It also remains, despite technology, analogue and, if anything, it has become slower.
Of course, until you have won your case, your costs are unlikely to be paid (setting aside payments on account for the moment), so why would you give your insurers a scare by sending a live file out to a costs draftsman if you did not need to? What difference would it really make anyway?
Frustratingly, dealing with costs take time. Often a very long time. It can take weeks and even months for your file to coalesce into a Bill that complies with the labyrinthine rules that dictate content, format and timings. There is no guaranteed method to fast track a Bill without prejudicing its content or quality, without putting your costs at risk. The larger your claim for costs, the longer it will take. Over the years efforts have been made to use differing formats
and techniques to speed this process up, and none have consistently and satisfactorily succeeded. It has become a maddening reality for solicitors that, if you require a Bill, you will be waiting for a Bill, and then waiting to settle it, and then waiting to be paid.
We are at the mercy of two key factors (1) time and (2)
the paying party. Time has two main components in costs, (a) the CPR and (b) the Court service. The CPR allows you 6 months from the date you are entitled to be paid, to
the date you should request the Court to assess your
costs. This is flexible, and it can and often will exceed those 6 months, not least because of the paying party. However, to some extent we can control this six months, even use
it. We cannot control the Court service, especially one that is underfunded and understaffed, and for whom costs is not a priority. That is the reality. The time from requesting an assessment, to being heard, even on a provisional assessment, is measured in months, not weeks. Then we have the paying party, an entity that does not want to pay you at all, but they must, so they have a team whose job it is to drive your recovery down and
delay payment.

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