Blog - Friday 11 October 2013

A Tale of Two Files – Relief From Sanctions – CPR 3.9

Within the last 48 hours, I and a colleague of mine have experienced:

1.  Reducing a commercial litigation Bill of £74k down to just £15k (an 80% reduction), as all additional liabilities were disallowed (plus a large reduction on the hourly rates), as the Solicitors failed to comply with PD32.5 (supplementing CPR 47 as it was pre 01.04.13 and still remains for all Bills which contain additional liabilities post 01.04.13).  The Solicitors in question refused to admit their error and proceeded to Assessment.  The Master at Assessment found there had been a breach and non-compliance.  C sought to make an oral Application for Relief, which the Court refused to allow them to do so.  Additional liabilities disallowed in full.

Once Assessment costs and disbursements have been taken into account, the C’s Solicitors didn’t recover one penny of actual profit costs.  They actually lost several thousand pounds of their own firm’s money, as well as tens of thousands of pounds of man hours.

The Master remarked “It’s a good job Just Costs only act for Claimants in PI and Clin Neg”… I think that might go on our marketing material.

2.  Refusal of permission to appeal received from the High Court, where the receiving party had failed to comply with PD32.5 when serving their Bill, refused to admit their error, proceeded to a Detailed Assessment Hearing, breach found, sought to make an oral Application for Relief – allowed to do so, relief granted.  We appeal.  Permission refused on paper as there are no reasonable grounds and the Master was within his reasonable discretion in allowing the oral App and then granting relief.

Consistent?  Its about as consistent as something that is very, very inconsistent (anger significantly impairs my powers of analogy).

It’s a good job I’m off to Ireland today for a wedding, I hear they have plenty of whisky there with which to make sense of the above.