Page 31 - PIC Magazine Spring Issue 15
P. 31

Lisa, 30, Barking
“Do you think Ainsworth v Stewarts Law LLP has a wider application in costs than just ‘own client’ assessments?”
Loquacious Points of Dispute are the bane of my existence, but it is telling how often, despite the massive word count, the actual argument is simply ‘excessive’. Ainsworth is fascinating, and certainly a warning to poorly unparticularized Points, but I feel paragraph 40 is telling. Of course, a balance must be struck between excessive detail, the costs as claimed, the burden on the Court, and the cost of preparing these documents. For me the clue is in the rule; Points must state, “concisely the nature and grounds of dispute”. The nature (i.e. excessive) and the grounds (why is it excessive?). It is this second strand that so many PODs fall down on, although arguably Precedent G validates this. Would I strike these out? As a general rule, no. But never say never, unless you are Sean Connery.
Eleanor, 62, Bradford
“How important is conduct to the recovery of assessment costs?”
We live in an interconnected world where social media gives voice to all manner of imbeciles, as Yorkshire Tea so memorably encountered recently. Costs are adversarial but that is no reason to allow matters to become childish or personal. We are all doing a job and should conduct ourselves like legal professionals; that is until we have assessment by Twitter, which could occur if we are all quarantined, and in that case let the abuse commence!
David, 27, Cardiff
“Travel time to see your own client, thoughts?”
The basic principle is as solid as the English front row; by all means travel to see your client but do not expect to automatically recover that time or related expense. However, like most things in costs, it can be case specific and common sense must be applied hand in hand with reasonableness and proportionality. If your client was in hospital, travel may be reasonable if you needed to see them. If your client has engaged you but lives
on a yacht in Barbados, then I would question the travel time
for obvious reasons. Finally, please evidence these claims properly if you want a full rate.
If you worked on another case whilst traveling, then the time will be claimed
elsewhere; if you did not, and you were squeezed into cattle class on a delayed and packed train, lacking air conditioning and surrounded
by boisterous children sneezing all over you, then say so. I am not
saying you will recover the time and rate, but at least you will
make me smile, which is never a bad thing.
     Costs Officer Sonia Ponceby-Thwaites
Clive, 60, Luton
“Following Ohpen and the frustration of Mrs Justice O’Farrell, do you think the SCCO rates need to be updated?”
Definitely. A decade is a long time, just ask the French
(Six Nations jibe there). Think how many assessments would fall by the wayside if a tiered selection of up to date hourly rates were made mandatory across, say, the fast track or lower value (intermediate!) track. For some, it may be justice as rough as Tyson Fury’s chin, but the saving in time and assessment costs may well pay dividends to all. Before I am asked, I could never declare my thoughts on reasonable rates, but it behooves lawyers in both trenches to involve themselves in these discussions.
Vihann, 41, London
“Do you think the £1,500.00 provisional assessment cap is fair and reasonable?”
That is an easy question to answer; no, not for all provisional assessments. A crude breakdown demonstrates that once you factor in the
time required post-provisional assessment
and the time required completing the necessary forms and paperwork during the assessment, there is not much time left to try and reach an agreement. It only takes one thorny issue or awkward party to
see this cap breached like the deck
of HMS Hood in 1941; and this is
even more likely as the costs
near the provisional costs limit.
If we can pay for someone to
study the eating habits of gulls,
one would hope they can pay
someone to work out a decent,
up-to-date, provisional
assessment fee cap
(or escape).
               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 PARTNERS IN COSTS

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