Daniel Laking successful in achieving a reduction in costs at detailed assessment from £14,000 to just £68

Daniel Laking was successful in achieving a reduction of over £13,000 to a costs bill on behalf of the client in a solicitor / own client assessment under the Solicitors Act 1974. He was instructed by Alistair Merchant of Kain Knight. The judge reduced the client's costs bill from over £14,000 to just £68.

The judge commented that the claimant "found itself decimated" after the hearing, having accepted several arguments on behalf of the paying client including:

  • The success fee under the CFA (originally set at 100%) was not recoverable in the absence of approval pursuant to CPR r46.9(3) and Herbert v HH Law.
  • The risk assessment was "superficial and generic" and did not justify the 100% level that had been set.
  • The hourly rate (charged at £400 for all fee earner grades) was unusual in amount and had been unreasonably incurred. The judge described the solicitors' conduct regarding hourly rates as "borderline profiteering without any basis" and substituted the 2010 Guideline Hourly Rates.
  • The solicitors' costs should be reduced for non-performance of the retainer. The judge found the solicitors had failed to progress the claim in accordance with their retainer in failing to commission medical evidence and failing to provide advice to the client. 

The solicitors ultimately recovered less than 1% of their Bill of Costs. They were ordered to pay the costs of the detailed assessment on the indemnity basis.

The judge ordered the solicitors to obtain a transcript of the assessment hearing and send it to the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 

The case has been been reported by the Association of Costs Lawyers. The article is here.