legal

Claimant lawyers appeal to recover case manager meeting costs



Claimant lawyers have urged the Court of Appeal not to rubber-stamp a new principle that costs of case management meetings are unrecoverable.

Appellants in Hadley v Przybylo argued in court this week that Master McCloud had been wrong to rule that charges for these meetings over medical care and rehabilitation were not claimable because they did not progress the case.

The personal injury claim has since settled for £5.6m lump sum and £170,000 periodical payments but the costs issues remain unresolved.

Lawyers representing the claimant incurred £163,185 costs attending these meetings and had budgeted for £68,400 in future costs. McCloud said the numerous attendances did not progress the litigation, although she stressed this was not a comment on whether the costs were reasonable or proportionate.

Before Lord Justice Coulson, Lord Justice Dingemans and Lord Justice Birss on Wednesday, Chris Barnes KC said claimant lawyers did not seek to argue that they were entitled to attend every case management meeting, nor that all the costs claimed were necessarily reasonable.

‘Our position is that not all costs are necessarily recoverable but there cannot be a blanket ban as a matter of principle on this type of attendance,’ said Barnes, who pointed out that the defendants in the case had even conceded this point. ‘[The Master] was wrong to find that as a matter of principle that the entire category of expense is non-recoverable. That is inconsistent with the concession, inconsistent with case law and inconsistent with established practice at the coalface.’

Barnes added that the case management hearings attended by solicitors were crucial to making decisions about the client’s staged move towards a period of rehabilitation and out of NHS care.

Even Lord Justice Coulson appeared to dismiss the idea that this was a matter of principle, noting at the outset of the hearing that ‘what is between you is the defendant’s outrage at how many hours were spent’.

In her ruling, McCloud had stated that the case determines a principle of costs budgeting under Civil Procedure Rules, namely whether the inclusion of solicitor attendance time in a budget was appropriate.

The defendant argued in the appeal hearing that McCloud’s reference to ‘progressive’ was simply ‘judicial shorthand’ for whether costs were of use and service, relevant and attributable’.

Judgment was reserved.



READ SOURCE