Page 31 - PIC Magazine Autumn Issue 16
P. 31

  Peter, 50, Stockport
“Inquest Costs – what are your thoughts?”
Ah Inquest costs. This is a straightforwardly complex costs issue
in two parts (a) are they recoverable
in principle and (b) to what extent are they recoverable. The first part has been dealt with repeatedly, starting with Re Gibson’s principles and most recently
in fact in Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service v Veevers (2020), and the answer is a resounding YES! The second part can seem like a fetid slurry of debate but has been dissected beautifully
in Lynch & Ors v Chief Constable of Warwickshire & Ors (2014) (the seven categories case), Carla Douglas v (1) Ministry of Justice (2) Care UK (2018), and Fullick & Ors -v- Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis [2019]. You see, it really is not hard to understand; if
you reasonably needed to attend for the unequivocal benefit of the claim, and there was no other reasonable option open to you, then more than likely the cost will be recoverable, subject of course to a preserved indemnity principle and the acceptance that if you’re going to swan off for an Inquest in Paris and perhaps catch a show at Moulin Rouge, then you are going to have a problem, and a very good night.
Isolde, 29, London
“Do you think the 20% SCCO rate uplift in PLK & Ors for Court of Protection costs has wider application across civil costs?”
I think it’s almost universal, barring one or two rogues, that the old rates are as welcome as a glass lavatory
(my husband is actually convinced they will invent a flying toilet long before
a flying car as it will be more useful). Master Whalan echoed many when
he noted that the archaic guideline
rates cannot be applied reasonably
or equitably without some form of monetary uplift that recognises the erosive effect of inflation and other commercial pressures. The 20% uplift
to these rates in COP will be applied much as the 3 minute unit reduction did, which is to the good. The decision will,
I think, carry significant weight and be quoted ad nauseum for the next few years in Replies. Interestingly, it seems that the argument that Deputies have higher overheads than general civil practitioners was rejected, so Master Whalan’s logic seems persuasive across the board.
Ibed, 32, Islington
“In the current pandemic, what are your thoughts on remote Assessments now and perhaps in the future?”
Kate, 24, Cardiff
“What are your thoughts on withdrawing a Part 36 Offer inside the relevant period?”
Ah Part 36, the self-contained code, I know it well. So, you make a Part 36 offer, in error, and want to withdraw it inside 21 days? Tough, the doctrine of mistake does not apply. You’ve more chance of winning the lottery whilst cruising above Mars in a Tesla Spaceliner sitting alongside a topless, and slightly tipsy, Tom Hardy (my ticket
is booked). You see, the burden of making the ‘right’ decision is transferred from the party who made the mistake to the one benefiting. Unless your opponent shows pity and lets you off the hook, there is little
you can do save throw yourself on the mercy of the Court. In
that case, I suspect a Judge will focus on justice. A
and you’ll struggle. Making an offer of nil on a £5million pound case, and it would be
 2020. The year of the virus, formally the rat, ironically. I haven’t been locked down this tightly since that night
in ’81. The pandemic is a maelstrom
of confusion, obfuscation and incompetence, though I confess as a sub rosa fan of dystopian novels, and in expectation of society crumbling,
I did want to form our own Costs Master gang, sticks topped with calculators and armour crafted from box files, roaming the ruins
of England dispensing
costs justice at the
end of a good
walloping; our
name, the
Jacksons; sadly
already taken.
Alas, it seems
society is robust
so instead we
must huddle
over tiny cameras,
scroll through pdf
documents and wrestle
the cat out of the way as we
finally stagger into the digital age.
For the most part the costs industry and judiciary are well placed and have adapted and embraced technology.
It allows me to deliberately list in person, in London, knowing full
well that if you’re in Newcastle or Manchester, you’ll suddenly develop
a willingness to find that measure of compromise. However, for the future
I am much less confident. Court time is valuable, and the internet can be fragile, subject to issues out of the parties’ and the Court’s hands, such
as whether you’re still holding a dial-up account or have ‘accidentally’ disconnected; not to mention the
cost of replacing all of the Court’s wiring with something capable of consistently handling a flow of 8k super HD hyper traffic. Plus, frankly,
I would miss not being able to
throw things at you.
trivial mistake, or one Ask... deemed an act of folly,
  a harsh Judge indeed who did not step in. Of course, one might ask with that burden of
responsibility having been shifted, what would happen to a paying party who deliberately sought to
take advantage of a clear error by accepting an offer after the party at fault had asked
to withdraw it? In short, the lesson is very clear- be very, very, careful and if you are before me, come prepared with Tom Hardy’s number.
    If you would like to ask Costs Officer Sonia Ponceby-
Thwaites a burning question in our next issue of
Partners In Costs, please email Spring 2020
Sonia Ponceby-Thwaites

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