APPLICATION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME FOR DETAILED ASSESSMENT PROCEEDINGS REFUSED:
There are many lessons that litigation lawyers can learn from the judgment of Master Leonard in Rattan v Carter-Ruck Solicitors  EWHC B9 (Costs). It is a case where a client agreed to a settlement and then, essentially, sought to recover the costs that had been paid to the solicitor. The claimant then delayed for several years in the conduct of assessment proceedings. The court refused to grant the claimant an extension of time to apply for a hearing.
“The Claimant’s application for an extension of time to apply for a detailed assessment hearing must be refused. He has delayed in doing so for a period of over three years”
The defendant solicitors had acted for the claimant in a financial mis-selling claim. That claim had settled on the basis of payment of $500,000 to the claimant and £360,000 in costs. The claimant was paid his damages and the costs paid directly to the defendant solicitors. The claim settled in December 2014. The claimant issued Part 8 proceedings for assessment of the bills delivered by the defendant. The claimant has also issued proceedings in the High Court alleging negligence in relation to the settlement.
THE DEFENDANT’S BILL
The bill served by the defendant in response to the Part 8 application for assessment totalled £627,641.50 (more than the £360,000 that the defendant had been paid). The claimant complained about this. That complaint was misplaced.
22. The Points of Dispute start with a complaint about the inclusion in the Claimant’s breakdown of the Defendant’s success fee, given that the Defendant had agreed to waive it. This misses a fundamental point about detailed assessment between solicitor and client. A solicitor is (subject to the permission of the court to amend) bound by the bill rendered and cannot ask for payment beyond what has been billed. On the assessment, however, the solicitor’s breakdown is not limited to the costs actually billed. The breakdown may demonstrate the reasonableness of a bill by showing that a higher charge could have been justified.
THE CLAIMANT’S DELAY
The court gave directions, these included an order that either party could request a hearing by 23rd July 2015.
THE DEFENDANT’S APPLICATION
The defendant sought to strike out the application on (i) grounds of delay; (ii) they were an abuse of process. The claimant sought an extension of time for requesting a detailed assessment hearing.