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.
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Entries by Toby Moreton
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.
We reported recently on HHJ Klein’s dismissal of the appeal in this Solicitors Act dispute between Stewarts Law (“the Respondent”) and their former client, Mr Ainsworth (“the Appellant”). Two weeks prior to that decision Mr Justice Roth determined applications by the Respondent: to set aside the order granting the Appellant permission to appeal on grounds that it was out of time pursuant to CPR 52.18(1)(b); and if the appeal was allowed to proceed, an order under CPR r.52.18(1)(c) that it be conditional on payment of the full amount ordered by the costs judge.
The Lord Chancellor or his representative may appear at any hearing at which a costs order may be made against him.
When the legally aided party files a statement of resources the court will fix a hearing date and give the relevant parties at least 14 days’ notice. If the application is made only against the Lord Chancellor, the court may fix a hearing date at the time of issue of the request.
If the legally aided party fails to file the statement of resources without good reason the court will determine his liability (and the full amount of costs if relevant) and need not hold an oral hearing for any such determination.
Within 21 days of being served with the application, the legally aided party must respond by filing a statement of resources (defined below) and serving a copy of it on the receiving party and where relevant the Lord Chancellor. The legally aided party may also, within the same time limit, file and serve written points disputing the bill of costs.
A request for an order must be made in the appropriate court office and must be accompanied by:
(i) the receiving party’s bill of costs (unless the full costs have already been determined);
(ii) the receiving party’s statement of resources (defined below);
(iii) if the receiving party intends to seek costs against the Lord Chancellor, written notice to that effect.