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Costs – challenge promptly

Litigation solicitors will no doubt breathe a sigh of relief to note that a costs judge has refused a claimant’s application to challenge a solicitor’s bill that was agreed and approved over four years ago. Carter-Ruck solicitors submitted a bill of £340,000 to their client in December 2014 for successful work in relation to a claim against a bank. The facts are complex but the central issue is that the bill of costs was fully itemised and was authorised by the claimant in relation to a conclusion from which he benefitted as the claimant received $500,000 in settlement of his claim and Carter-Ruck was separately paid its £340,000 in costs directly.
 
The costs judge was not persuaded that ‘family difficulties’ cited by the claimant were sufficient to justify a delay of some three years in challenging the amount received by Carter-Ruck and the judge took the view that the fact of him being a litigant in person had no bearing on the matter. Of particular note are the judge’s observations as follows:
  • the claimant was not forced into approving the settlement arrangements; 
  • Carter-Ruck were not threatening to cease to act (indeed, they indicated that they would continue to act even if the advice on settlement was not accepted);
  • the claimant could have gone to another firm if he had not wanted to accept the advice; and
  • the claimant did not understand that a detailed assessment is not a process of reducing the defendant’s bill of costs – it is aimed at establishing a reasonable chargeable figure (which may be substantially above the billed figure).
See Rattan v Carter-Ruck [2019] EWHC B9 (Costs) also reported on www.bailii.org
 

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