Harmans Costs Brief - July 2015

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Welcome to the latest edition of Costs Brief. Is it really nearly August already?  There are plenty of articles to browse through this month with a particular focus on a recent report which recommends that pro bono work becomes mandatory for all lawyers as part of their professional obligation - Partner Gary Knight responds below.

Costs Brief will be having a summer break next month but will return in September with news of our next free costs seminar.  Do let us know if you would like to be kept updated with details of our various events and training sessions.

Many thanks, Harmans Costs

For even more news and comment visit our website
Westminster think tank recommends mandatory pro bono work
for all lawyers 
Pro bono work should be mandatory for all lawyers to help tackle the crisis in public confidence in the legal profession, a think tank report has recommended this week.

The independent Westminster-based group ResPublica says that the 'largely negative' attitude towards lawyers from the public has not been reversed and has resulted in the public accepting the withdrawal of public spending from the profession.

Justice Secretary Michael Gove has already floated the idea of wealthy lawyers carrying out more pro bono work as part of their professional duty so this idea is starting to gain some weight.

Partner and Costs Lawyer Gary Knight gives his take below along with Law Gazette's John Hyde whose article appeared on The Law Society Gazette's website last week.
"Fat cat" myth undermines all the good work done
slams Gary Knight

I am disappointed to notice politicians and sections of the media back on the Solicitor bashing bandwagon, all in the name of reducing costs.

It has been a few years since this level of critique but the same old, tired headlines are being trotted out with references to "fat cat" solicitors getting the cream that is the tax payers money; headlines scream, "Solicitors being paid £800-£1,000 per hour" without any context provided.

Disappointingly some members of the public will buy into some of the headlines, papers wouldn't print it if it wasn't true, right?!

Read more from Gary Knight

The National Health Service Litigation Authority

According to the latest figures, last year the NHS paid out £1.2billion in clinical negligence claims, of which £259million was paid to patients' lawyers.


Read more
Crisis in confidence? Start by showing lawyers respect
says John Hyde

I can probably imagine the reaction of Gazette readers and Twitter users to the ResPublica report. I certainly wouldn't recommend younger viewers checking the responses pre-watershed.

The idea of mandatory pro bono and lawyers swearing an oath to uphold the common good are nothing new. But crucially they are starting to get more traction. Respublica are a respected and independent think tank, and you can bet there will be more than one civil servant in Whitehall reading its report on a crisis in the professions with interest.

Read the rest of John Hyde's article

County Court portal case leapfrogged to the Court of Appeal

An appeal on the contentious issue of which fixed costs apply in portal 'drop-out' cases when they settle before trial has been leapfrogged to the Court of Appeal from Birkenhead County Court.

Read more
The Chancellor delivered his Summer Budget this month - key points here

Trainee Costs Lawyer Nishma Shah considers the many issues
surrounding amending budgets


Although currently there is a 3 month reprieve in submitting Precedent H budgets, there are a number of ongoing cases where a budget has been prepared but matters have arisen which require the budget to be amended.

The preparation of budgets are a still a huge cause of contention for all parties involved.  Often there are considerable variables to consider and one must often hazard a guess at the other side's tactics.  In addition, one must also tailor budgets to the Court that is hearing the matter with specific Courts often having specific requirements.

Read more from Nishma

The Fee Remission Scheme and Mesothelioma Sufferers

The MOJ announced this month that the government would amend the Courts and tribunals Fee Remissions Order 2013 to protect mesothelioma sufferers.

As a result, the Asbestos Victims Support Groups Forum UK has withdrawn its Judicial Review challenge which has been based on the argument that enhanced court fees breached victims' rights to a fair trial under Article 6 of the Convention.

Read more


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