In this short judgment, Master James (costs judge) dealt with an application by the paying party for disallowance of the Claimant’s costs on grounds of unreasonable and improper conduct.
This case highlightds the importance of familiarising yourself fully with the retainer documentation under which you are acting.
In the course of a detailed assessment in the SCCO Deputy Master Friston (costs judge) found that the conditional fee agreements (there were three, of which one “The Third Agreement” was relevant to the instant proceedings) were so confusing as to be almost incomprehensible.
This was a decision regarding alleged mis-certification of a costs budget. The case bore similarities to the facts in Tucker v Griffiths and Hampshire University Hospitals NHS Trust, another decision of Master Rowley. Both parties were critical of Master Rowley’s decision in Tucker, the defendant complaining that it was too lenient and the claimant contending that it had been too harsh as a finding of misconduct under CPR 44.11 had not been warranted on the facts.
There have been number of cases recently dealing with alleged misconduct in the course of detailed assessment proceedings and applications under CPR 44.11. In this latest decision, an appeal from the Senior Courts Costs Officer, the High Court upheld the decision of Deputy Master Campbell (formerly Master Campbell) that notwithstanding a number of mis-certifications in the Bill of Costs these were all explainable errors none of which amounted to unreasonable or improper conduct under CPR 44.11.
Master Rowley tackles a number preliminary points in a detailed assessment arising from a complex clinical negligence claim, including an alleged mis-certification of the claimant’s budget giving rise to an application under CPR 44.11, level of success fee and hourly rates and ‘good reason to depart’.