An appeal against a decision that a detailed assessment should be carried out pursuant to section 70 of the Solicitors Act 1974 was dismissed. It was found that the bill had not been paid for the purposes of s.70(4), as part of the sum remained outstanding in a client account. It was also found that the Master had made a value judgment in deciding that there were “special circumstances” for the purposes of s.70(3), thus correctly permitted a detailed assessment.
It was found that had there been no authority on the issue, where QOCS applies, the court has no jurisdiction to order costs liability to be set off against each other. However, the Court was bound by its previous decision in Howe v Motor Insurers’ Bureau and consequently proceeded on the basis that there is jurisdiction to order the set-off of the parties’ respective costs entitlements.
This case analysed the costs issues in relation to a successful personal injury claim where the claimant had been injured by a rugby post. The claimant was found to have exaggerated the claim (although he was not dishonest), thus his conduct was a cause of unnecessary expense. This led to the balance lying in favour of reducing the award of costs. In assessing the reduction it was acknowledged that the defendant should also take some responsibility for the trial lasting as long as it did, and a reduction of 15% was deemed appropriate.
In this case, a group action was subject to a costs budgeting regime which was divided into phases. The costs for each phase were budgeted at the start of the phase to which it was intended to apply. The claimants sought retrospective variation of their phase 1 budget to increase the sums to be allowed in respect of two categories of expenditure, which was refused. Mr Justice Turner also reduced the claimants’ forthcoming phase 2 budgeted costs.
The claimant’s claim was unsuccessful. The claimant, therefore, had to pay the defendant’s costs however these were reduced due to a refusal to agree to ADR and the stance it adopted in the pre-action correspondence.