Assessment of Costs

What is Assessment of Costs?

The Assessment of costs is the process by which the Court determines who and how much should be paid by the parties for legal costs.

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Assessment of Costs

Whose Costs Are Assessed?

The court can be asked to assess the costs for a hearing or trial that has taken place or the costs between a client and their solicitor.

What Types Of Assessment Are There?

There are 2 types of assessment, namely summary assessment and detailed assessment.

Summary assessment takes place following a trial or hearing that lasts up to 1 day. It is a very broad brush approach to deciding how much should be paid. The parties provide brief details of the costs they are claiming, the Judge hears from the parties and then reaches a decision. The Judge will normally use the Guideline Rates to set the appropriate hourly rate for the solicitor involved. The process is not intended to take very long at all, hence the name. For more information on how you should prepare for a Summary Assessment, please see our Summary Assessment page.

Detailed assessment takes place either when a client challenges their solicitor’s bill, or at the end of a case which has usually taken more than 1 day in court. In this instance a detailed bill is drawn up and served on the other side/client. There is 21 days from service to provide "Points of Dispute" raising challenges to the bill. If they fail to raise any challenges within 21 days of service, then a "Default Costs Certificate" is normally obtained for the full amount of the bill. For an example of a detailed bill, please see our Detailed Assessment page.

Arguably any solicitor who knows what they are doing, can raise legitimate challenges to a bill. Where a default costs certificate is issued against a legally represented party, they may have a claim against the solicitor as a result. A certificate issued against a party may be set aside as long as you act promptly.

Where Points of Dispute are served, unless the parties reach a compromise agreement, the case proceeds to a detailed assessment hearing. For costs less than £75,000, this will be a provisional hearing without the parties, otherwise it will be an oral hearing with the parties and/or their representatives. An oral hearing usually takes anything from an hour to a day, with either a lawyer or costs draftsman attending the hearing for each side.

What Is The Basis Used For Assessing Costs?

The Court goes through the bill line by line, assessing the issues raised and determining the amount that should be paid. The basis of assessment of legal costs is either on the standard basis or the indemnity basis. These include looking at how reasonable the costs are and how proportional they are to the issues of the case. Attention may be paid to the Guideline Hourly Rates, but these are less binding and are not relevant on solicitor/own client assessments (Indemnity basis).

When Must The Costs Be Paid?

Once the amount of costs has been decided there is usually 14 days to make payment, unless the Court gives a different deadline.