ADMINISTRATIVE COURT AWARDS NOTIONAL COSTS: THE PRICE TO PAY FOR THE ABSENCE OF A COSTS SCHEDULE

There is an interesting exchange at the end of the judgment of Mr Justice Dove in The Queen on the application of the Solicitors Regulation Authority -v- Imran [2015] EWHC 2572 (Admin).

A REMINDER

This is an example of the pitfalls surrounding costs. I have included guidance from PJ Kirby QC below. PJ and I are the lecturing on the topic of litigation, costs and pitfalls on the 22nd September 2015, Hardwicke Building, Lincolns Inn, London. The lecture is 90 minutes short and is to raise money for the Billable Hours appeal.  Details of how to book are available here.

THE CASE

The SRA appealed an order of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal had suspended a solicitor from practice for two years. The SRA argued that this was excessively lenient and the court should substitute an order striking off the respondent.  The judge rejected the SRA’s application.

THE EXCHANGE AND THE JUDGMENT ON COSTS
  1. lusion that this decision was clearly inappropriate and that therefore I should interfere with it. As a result this appeal must be dismissed.
  2. MR TREVERTON-JONES: I would therefore ask for an order that the appeal is dismissed. I would ask for an order that the SRA pay Mr Imran’s costs. To my embarrassment, there is no costs schedule produced by those instructing me so I would ask for a detailed assessment.
  3. MR JUSTICE DOVE: Lord Justice Jackson would probably suggest that I assess them at zero.
  4. MR TREVERTON-JONES: I do not know what he would suggest, but they will not be particularly large. They will certainly be a lot lower than the SRA. I would ask for a detailed assessment. I have nothing in writing to give you.
  5. MR JUSTICE DOVE: Is there anything you want to say, Mr Williams?
  6. MR WILLIAMS: Yes. First of all, the practical point that the rules are clear and well known. There has been no schedule served upon us, and consequently no notice other than by implication that an application would be made. Secondly, the appeal in my submission was properly brought in the public interest. The SRA is a public interest regulator. The profession supports it financially. These cases are important and this case falls into that category. In my submission it would be inhibitive that the SRA – – if they were discouraged from pursuing such appeals as this for the benefit of the public and the profession. There is that aspect to it. And, secondly (sic), the fact that these matters should be dealt with on the day by summary assessment, not putting the parties to the further costs of detailed assessment. That is the whole basis of the regime.
  7. So I would ask my Lord to consider that the right order in this case is that each party should pay their own costs.
  8. MR JUSTICE DOVE: Mr Treverton-Jones?
  9. MR TREVERTON-JONES: I have nothing in response. Ordinarily, had there been a schedule of costs, I would submit that the ordinary rules should apply and that the costs should follow the event in this court which is well known on these appeals. Therefore, I invite you to order that the SRA pay Mr Imran’s costs, those costs to be the subject of detailed assessment.
41. Ruling
  1. MR JUSTICE DOVE: I am not willing to order detailed assessment in this case because it seems to me that is simply going to add further to the costs of the parties. I also take the view there is some force in what Mr Williams says about public interest in these appeals being heard. However it does seem to me that the respondent having been successful, I should assess costs. And I am going to do so in a notional figure of £5,000. That is the best I can do. Adding to the costs of the proceedings by ordering detailed assessment seems to me to be quite disproportionate.

GUIDANCE FROM A COSTS QC

I have written on the topic of summary assessment before. It is prudent to remember the guidance given by PJ Kirby Q.C.  in the guidance section of that earlier posts.

Having given a number of seminars about maximising the recovery of costs on summary assessment my number 1 tip would be same as DJ Lethem – make sure that counsel or any other advocate is properly briefed in relation to costs. What is the point of winning if your client still ends up considerably out of pocket because all your efforts were put into making sure that counsel was sufficiently briefed in relation to the substance of the application and only an afterthought was given to the question of how the costs are justifiable.”

RELATED POSTS

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: