Harmans Costs Brief - September 2015

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It's back! Costs Brief had a break over the summer (what summer?) but we're back for the autumn with lots of industry costs news, including one very exciting announcement about our app, Costs Expert - read all about it below.

We're close to finalising a date for our next free costs seminar, keep an eye on our new training and seminar web page for updates.

Many thanks, Harmans Costs

For even more news and comment visit our website

Harmans only costs firm to be shortlisted for
The Law Society’s 2015 Excellence Awards

One of the most prestigious events within the legal sector, The Law Society Excellence Awards celebrate brilliance and outstanding achievement across a range of areas from Pro Bono to Technology to Marketing and Communications; and this year Harmans are very proud to have had their app Costs Expert recognised in the Business Development category.

Costs Expert is a bespoke mobile application which features the first ever interest calculator for the costs industry.  The app, available on both iPhone and android, is free to download and acts not only as a valuable industry resource but also as a tool to help solicitors with their everyday workload.

Matthew Harman, Partner, says: “It’s absolutely fantastic to be shortlisted for The Law Society Excellence Award and is testament to all the hard work that went into developing Costs Expert.  We set out to improve our client service, at no extra cost to clients, and to be recognised by the Law Society for achieving this is so rewarding.”

Winners will be announced at the awards ceremony in London on Thursday 22nd October.

Download Costs Expert now –

iPhone version:

Android version:

Insurance Premium Tax –
a reminder

The government is raising the rate of tax by more than 50% in November which will impact on the cost of ATE cover.


One of the most innocuous-sounding changes announced in George Osborne’s July Budget will see millions of Brits pay more for the likes of motor, home, contents, BTE and ATE insurance.


The rate will increase from 6% to 9.5% - according to Mr Osborne, this will bring the levy more in line with the rates charged in other major economies.

Read more

Phased Bills of Costs
for Assessment

Solicitors should be aware that from 1 October 2015 itemised Bills for Assessment will need to include a breakdown for each phase of the proceedings where budgets have been approved.

You can read the new rule here and find the statutory instrument here.

Recorded RTA settlements fall by 60,000 in the last 12 months
Despite insurance companies cries of "increase in claims" in an attempt to justify higher premiums and the government's continuing references to "compensation culture", the DWP CRU statistics show that recorded RTA settlements actually fell by 60,000 in the last 12 months.

CRU stats show that the number of total claims registered is down by 50,000 in 3 years. The CRU benefits recovered are down by £10 million in 4 years.

Read more

Justice on the cheap?

At the beginning of June the government announced £4.5bn of cuts to public finances with the Justice Department hit for £249m. To put this into context, it is more than the budgetary reductions imposed upon the Home Office; Foreign & Commonwealth Office; Energy & Climate Change; Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Culture, Media & Sport combined.

Should bills be split pre and post April 2013?  Partner and Costs Lawyer Gary Knight discusses

The question has been raised once again following the decision of the Senior Costs Judge, Master Gordon-Saker in the matter BP –v- Cardiff & Vale University Local Health Board [2015] EWHC B13.

The matter involved a claim for costs arising from a dispute wherein a budget had been approved by the Judge.

The issues raised included a challenge to the preparation of the bill and in particular to the fact that the bill did not apportion costs to show work done under each phase of work thus there was no way for the paying party to compare costs set out in the budget as approved and the claim for costs now presented. Further the bill of costs did not split the work to show pre April and post April 2013 to consider work applying the “old” test of proportionality for the pre April 13 work and the “new” more robust proportionality test post April 2013.

Read more from Gary

CFAs subject to contract cancellation regulations, says appeal court

Thousands of costs cases could be affected by a Court of Appeal ruling earlier this year which established that the Cancellation of Contracts made in a Consumer’s Home or Place of Work etc. Regulation 2008 applied to conditional fee agreements (CFAs).

In the case of Cox v Woodlands Manor Care Home Ltd the failure to attach a notice of cancellation to the CFA meant the costs were assessed at nil.

The full ruling is awaited, but a briefing produced by the defendant’s solicitors, BLM, explained that it was an employer’s liability case where the claimant recovered £100,000 plus costs. Due to the nature of her injuries, her solicitors attended her at home to take initial instructions.

Read rest of the article


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