Summary Assessment Of Costs

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, via a costs schedule, 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.

Costs Schedule

When Should A Costs Schedule Be Served?

When preparing for summary assessment it is important any costs schedule is served on the other side and filed with the Court at least 1 clear working day before the hearing. That means it must be received by the other side before 4pm two working days before the hearing. It is the responsibility of the solicitor for each party to make sure this is done. The judge may take a lenient viewpoint if the Court has not received it, usually because it may not have made the file, even if filed in time, but is unlikely to be so amenable if the other side have not. There is nothing to prevent you from serving this early.

What Should A Costs Schedule Include?

A costs schedule should include all the costs of the case incurred up to the point of the hearing. There needs to be a schedule for every relevant scenario. So, if there was an offer and it is beaten at Court, the judge will want to know what time was incurred before the offer and after.

Copy any relevant letters, making sure there is a copy for you, the other side and the judge. If this runs to more than 10 pages it should be paginated in a bundle, either in a file or with a treasury tag through it. It would be sensible to attach a copy of your costs schedule to the front of this.

What About The Other Side's Cost Schedule?

Compare your schedule to the other side's schedule of legal costs once theirs is received. Where the costs are broadly similar, or the other side's charges are considerably higher this may be relevant to how much should be paid.

Check the relevant guideline hourly rate for the lawyer/fee earner who dealt with the case and the area where the hearing is to take place. Prepare a note of the issues you wish to raise. This should be in summary form only, particularly as you may need to adapt to what has taken place at the hearing.

What To Do Once You Arrive At Court

When you get to Court speak to whoever is representing the other side to make sure they have received a copy of your schedule. You should also provide them with one of the copies of your bundle. Do not send a copy through to the judge as it may not be appropriate for the judge to see the documentation in your bundle before the substantive issues have been dealt with.

If the case does not conclude and the judge defers a decision as to costs until the end of the case, you will need to know what happens in a Detailed Assessment of costs.