Case study 4 – challenging former solicitors’ costs

This client had previously conducted some litigation involving a construction dispute. They won the case but then received an unexpectedly large costs bill from their own solicitors.

The client had started detailed assessment proceedings against those former solicitors, and was also facing a separate application to secure payment of the fees. I was able to advise initially on how to deal with that application and on suitable directions to manage the detailed assessment.

I gave the client advice on challenging the former solicitors’ costs. One of the main angles of attack was to say that the costs should be restricted because the solicitors had failed to give adequate costs information to the client.

When it got to the stage of drafting Points of Dispute, we agreed that it would be most cost effective in this instance to bring in a costs draftsman to help. We were able to divide up the work between us so that I argued the main points of principle, and the costs draftsman did much of the drafting, and made submissions on the points of detail. The client continued to conduct correspondence and deal with other matters themselves.

Ultimately, after a number of hearings, the client secured an excellent outcome: after succeeding on a preliminary issue about the lack of costs information, the overall Bill was reduced substantially, meaning that the client was also awarded the costs of the detailed assessment. By running the case in this way, his costs were a fraction of the other side’s.

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