Process Of Applying For Detailed Assessment Of Costs
Step One - Apply For Detailed Assessment Of Costs
You will need to download and fill in 3 copies of Part 8 claim form (N208). Next you need to send all 3 forms, plus a £45 application fee and a copy of your solicitor’s bill, to the Senior Courts Costs Office, if living in London, or to your local District Registry if living outside London. If your original case was dealt with by a county court and your solicitor’s bill is for £5,000 or less, you can apply to your nearest county court.
The court will stamp them with an issue date, keep one copy of your claim form and send one copy back to you and the other one to your solicitor.
Your solicitor will then confirm they have received it by sending you an ‘acknowledgement of service’. If they don’t think you should have a detailed assessment of their bill, you will be asked by the court to attend a hearing. If your solicitor agrees to the detailed assessment, they will send you a letter confirming this and you should send a copy of it to the court. The court may then decide a hearing is not necessary.
Step Two - A Hearing
You must take copies of any documents you’ve sent to the court as part of your application. Both you and your solicitor will present your case to a Costs Judge (London), or a District Judge (outside London). They will decide whether to order a detailed assessment of the bill and will either notify you during the hearing or by post within a few days. You’ll be given a court order allowing detailed assessment to take place. If you are denied you can appeal the decision.
Step Three - Detailed Assessment Request
Your solicitor will apply for their costs to be assessed by filling in the detailed assessment request form (N258C) and sending it off together with the court fee, which varies according to the size of their bill, but starts at £335 for all bills up to £15,000.
At this point they will draw up a detailed bill and “serve” it on you. You then have 21 days from service to provide "Points of Dispute" which raise challenges to the bill. If you fail to raise any challenges within 21 days of service, a "Default Costs Certificate" will probably be obtained for payment of the full amount of the bill by you.
Once Points of Dispute have been served by you, unless you are both able to reach a compromise agreement, the case will proceed 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.