Pre-Inquest Review Costs

Clinical Negligence cases are common place among our workload in the Litigation Team, and we often see costs on a file, and therefore claimed in a Bill, associated with a Pre-Inquest Review and then the Inquest.  There has been recent judgment in relation to the former, and it is important to consider the outcome.

In Briley & Ors v Leicester Partnership NHS Trust & Ors [2023], several points were disputed by the Defendants, however we will focus on their dispute regarding the costs of attending the Pre-Inquest Review.

This was a case where a young woman sadly died whilst in the care of the Defendants.  A claim was made against these Defendants for negligence causing that death.  At the time of the Pre-Inquest Review, liability had not been admitted, and the Claimant had incurred costs totalling £14,770.67 which were comprised of Solicitor’s costs, Counsel’s fees, and travel expenses.  It is important to note that these costs related solely to the Pre-Inquest Review, and not the Inquest itself, as liability was admitted shortly before the Inquest.

The Defendants claimed that a “platinum legal service” had been provided to the Claimants, before the Defendants had had an opportunity to address the claim facing them.  The Defendants also claimed that the costs were “eye-watering” without regard to proportionality.  The Defendants were of the view that only costs “of and incidental to” the claim were recoverable and disputed all items associated with the Pre-Inquest Review hearings.

Costs Judge James heard responses from the Claimants’ representative and found that the costs of attending the Pre-Inquest Review were recoverable from the Defendants, and that they were not “eye-watering” as had been alleged.  The Claimant had died after months of inadequate care, culminating in her taking steps that ended her life, and Costs Judge James found that these costs “are relevant to issues in the civil claim so as to be recoverable as costs in that claim”.  Liability was admitted prior to the Inquest so these costs were not claimed, and ultimately the case settled in the sum of £65,000.

Interestingly, the Court also highlighted that some of the Defendants’ points were of a cut and paste nature, as they referred to costs associated to the verdict.  This was clearly not claimed in the Bill of Costs, and it is interesting that the Court highlighted this, as we frequently see Points of Dispute where we wonder if the file, Bill of Costs, and Points of Dispute have actually been read, as the wording doesn’t always appear to be accurate in order to try and boost the Defendants’ argument.

If you have any questions regarding the above, then please do not hesitate to contact Tom Brocklebank here.