Assessments of costs in the Supreme Court are conducted by the Costs Officers appointed by the President. One must be a Costs Judge; the second must be the Registrar of the Supreme Court. The Costs Officers normally sit together as a Court of two or three. The current panel of Costs Judges sitting in the Supreme Court is the Senior Costs Judge (Chief Taxing Master) Gordon-Saker, Master Leonard and Master James.
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Various statutes give the SCCO jurisdiction to assess costs in litigation including…
Bills of costs in proceedings in the District Registries of the High Court and the County Court are frequently transferred to the SCCO either at the request of the parties or of the Court’s own initiative. This is likely to occur when a District Judge considers the size and complexity of the bill warrants such a transfer.
Appendix AD is a specimen order for costs against a claimant who is a legally aided party and also a specimen order for use by a Costs Judge or District Judge when determining the amount of costs payable by a legally aided party.
A “statement of resources” should set out the details of the financial resources and expectations of the maker of the statement and of his “partner” (the person with whom he or she lives as a couple). The resources of a partner are not treated as the legally aided party’s resources if the partner has a contrary interest in the proceedings.
When dealing with the request, the court has a discretion as to whether the costs of the request or application are payable by one party to another, the amount of those costs and (if relevant) when they are to be paid.
Following the decision of Birss J in J P Finnegan v Spiers (t/a Frank Spiers Licensed Conveyancers)  EWHC 3064 (Ch) which we reported on last year, HHJ Rawlings has found that the court has no power to award a payment on account of costs in circumstances where the substantive action has settled by way of acceptance of a Part 36 Offer.
Following our recent report on the case of Hossaini v EDS Recruitment Ltd in which the Employment Tribunal had wrongly considered and taken into a “Without Prejudice” (as opposed to a “Without Prejudice Save As To Costs” offer) when determining costs, the First Tier Tribunal has fallen into the same error. Upholding the appeal, Judge Elizabeth Cooke found that the offer should not have been disclosed and the decision on costs insofar as it turned on the fact of this offer could not stand.
The appellants in this case are former clients of the respondent firm of solicitors. They alleged that in the course of a contentious probate dispute concerning the will and estate of their late father, an oral agreement had been reached to cap their legal costs to those set out in their Precedent H costs budget. At first instance Master Whalan found that there had been no such agreement. This was upheld on appeal by Mr Justice Stewart. The decision provides a useful round up and examination of the law and principles related to both an appellate court’s approach to findings of fact and contractual interpretation.
This was the first appeal in which the recoverability of inquest costs in civil claims has fallen to be considered since introduction of the Jackson reforms. It followed an assessment of costs by Deputy Master Keens in the SCCO when he allowed the sum of £88,356.22 as a against an original claim of £122,000 excl VAT. The claim was for damages for breach of Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, negligence and misfeasance in public office following the death of Ms Jones who became ill at a police station.