Many legal practitioners have awaited the final report of Lord Justice Jackson on Civil Justice Reform. The proposals originally canvassed have not been implemented and allow for recovery of reasonable costs in higher value work. Some comfort may be had, that Brexit will dominate the legislature’s time and resources and it is suggested that the extended fixed costs regime may not be implemented in any event until 2019/20 to accord with the government’s review of changes implemented by the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act (see Law Society Gazette article ‘Jackson cost reforms ‘could take years’. 07/08/17)
Nonetheless, many firms of Solicitors will now have to consider changing their business model to reflect the limitations placed upon them by the ever expanding fixed costs regime. This also emphasises the need to have experienced draftsman who can maximise profit costs recovery whilst ensuring their clients are not exposed to an adverse risk. In addition, it is imperative for Solicitors to instruct draftsmen who have the technical ability to recover their proper entitlement within the fixed recoverable costs protocols and to capitalise on the exceptions afforded by the rules, namely, to seek recovery of reasonable costs in ‘exceptional circumstances’ or the recovery of reasonable disbursements incurred.
In recent months this has been demonstrated to a client; recently one of our advocates, succeeded in maintaining that the recovery of counsel’s advice fees for quantum in respect of a minor, whilst not strictly recoverable within the rules, constituted a reasonable disbursement under CPR 45.12c because the disbursement had a arisen due to a ‘particular feature of the dispute’. Mr Paul Davis, the Company’s leading advocate, succeeded in persuading the Court that, on interpretation, a ‘particular feature of the dispute’ must extend to the fact that the party was a ‘protected person’ under the Rules.
With the extension of fixed cost reforms, it is more important than ever for firms of solicitors to be afforded the services of technically competent professional draftsman. Here at Alternative Costs we pride ourselves in the level of technical expertise and advice we provide to our clients to ensure they recover their full entitlement in costs.