Jaffar Shah is a litigation solicitor at Deo Volente Solicitors
Working in the litigation department here at Deo Volente Solicitors, we are often asked by our clients “how much will it cost”. With the unpredictability of litigation and the constant review of the client’s position, this is a difficult question to answer. At Deo Volente Solicitors we aim to provide a bespoke estimated costs schedule to our clients to advise them of the potential costs that they are likely to incur. Of course, this is subject to the ever-changing route a case can take in litigation and our clients are constantly kept abreast of any changes made to the estimate of costs.
The courts have forever been wary of the complications of costs and the introduction of The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 [LASPO] brought with it a strict change to costs budgeting for solicitors in that they are now required to complete a Precedent H form, stating how much they are budgeting for various stages in the litigation process. The courts require strict compliance with the completion of a Precedent H form on or before the stated date in the court order, as non-compliance renders the costs of the litigation as unrecoverable. This was most notably evident in the groundbreaking case of Mitchell v NGN Limited . This scheme has without a doubt had one of the greatest impacts upon the civil costs world and will be heralded as a lasting legacy for LJ Jackson the pioneer of the controversial LASPO legislation.
Precedent H form
The form itself is available on the court website which helpfully provides an excel version with all the formulas inputted for ease of calculation. It is divided in several sections covering matters from Pre-action costs to the Trial itself.
The key to successful costs budgeting is understanding the case and moreover being aware of the evidence, witnesses and experts [amongst other things] that will be required to achieve a successful outcome for a client. Whilst a solicitor may undertake those checks to safeguard against the pitfall of unrecoverable costs, it is important to keep the budget under constant review for any changes that may occur. This is why it is essential to include contingencies in the budget as if none are included for which the court deems to be a foreseeable change then the court can refuse permission to amend the budget.
Unfortunately, the whole budget process is quite adversarial in nature and Defendants do not particularly see an advantage in agreeing to a budget instead leaving it in the hands of a judge to potentially reduce it.
However, what the form does is it allows a client to be aware of the costs incurred and costs estimated so that he or she can budget accordingly to ensure the ability to pay costs.
At Deo Volente Solicitors we have a state of the art case management system and internal procedures to allow litigators to prepare for each litigation stage with ease. We have produced a system which is straightforward to allow our solicitors to ensure that the cost budgets that are filed are proportionate.
If you would like to instruct litigators committed to your case, please do not hesitate to contact our litigation team.