Redraw your Bill of Costs, I say!

Today, we look at the case of Brierly -v- Otuo & Ors [2023] EWHC 275 (SCCO). In this matter, the Defendant (paying party) argued that the Claimant’s Bill of Costs did not comply with the relevant practice directions and it therefore should be redrawn.

The background to the claim is that following settlement, the Claimant served a Bill of Costs. On 17 March 2022 the Defendant made an application for the Bill of Costs to be redrawn arguing that the Bill failed to identify the various fee earners by name, status and the hourly rate claimed. The Bill also failed to identify the appropriate fee earner for the work undertaken. The Defendant argued that as such, they were unable to prepare Points of Dispute and the Bill should be redrawn.

On 30 March 2022 an amended Bill of Costs was served by the Claimant and whilst there was no specific reason provided in relation to the service of the amended Bill including additional information, it appears that the Defendant had achieved what their application had set out to achieve. However, this was not the end…

The question still remained as to whether the amended Bill of Costs was compliant following the Court of Appeal decision in AKC -v- Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust [2022] EWCA Civ 630.

The Defendant took issue with the failure to spell out how many years of post-qualification experience each fee earner had and also argued that the post-qualification experience of one of the fee earners included time spent at an insurance company – it should be noted that this did not form part of the initial application.

Having reviewed the COA decision, Costs Judge Nagalingham concluded that the amended Bill of Costs was compliant and therefore did not require redrawn. Furthermore, it was stated that the argument raised by the Defendant, regarding post-qualification experience, was a point to be raised within the Points of Dispute, not a reason for the Bill of Costs to be redrawn.

The Defendant went on to argue that he ought to have been served with an electronic Bill of Costs for work after 6 April 2018 however, this argument was quickly dispatched by the Claimant who relied on CPR 47 PD 5.1(a): namely that this was not a Part 7, Multi Track claim and therefore it was for the receiving party to elect whether a paper or electronic Bill of Costs was prepared.

This case is a timely reminder of the details required within a Bill of Costs and highlights some potential arguments which receiving parties may face.

The full case and be found here and or more information, please contact Karl Robson.

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