Practice and Procedure


PUBLISHED April 7, 2003

Although a qualified solicitor, the claimant fell to be treated as a litigant in person for the purposes of determining the hourly rate that she had been entitled to charge for work carried out when acting on her own behalf in costs proceedings.Defendant solicitors' appeal ('Boyd') against Costs Judge Wright's rulings in relation to the detailed assessment of the claimant's ('J') costs of a taxation hearing ('the original taxation') which had taken place on two dates in 1996 and 1997. In 1992 J had instructed Boyd to act on her behalf in relation to a claim for damages that had arisen out of a motor accident in 1989. In 1993 J had been awarded damages of just under ?12,000 and interest. Her costs were to be paid on County Court Scale 2. After the taxation of those costs, Boyd had claimed just over £1,000 from J in respect of the shortfall between their bill of costs and the amount paid under the court order. J had applied for a taxation of Boyd's bill. The original taxation had led to a reduction of just over £460 in Boyd's bill, leaving a balance of just under £9,000 to be paid. J had been ordered to pay the costs of the taxation. In April 2000 the final costs certificate in respect of the original taxation had been issued. J had applied for a review of that certificate pursuant to RSC O.62 r.35. In January 2001 Jacob J had set aside the certificate, reduced Boyd's bill (principally by allowing a reduction in Boyd's hourly charging rates) and ordered Boyd to pay J's costs of the original taxation on an indemnity basis. J had lodged an estimated bill of her profit costs in a sum of over £107,000, contending that as a qualified solicitor who had, until 1999, also practised as a costs draftsman, she was entitled to charge an hourly rate of £120. The taxation of those costs ('the second taxation') had given rise to the following issues, all of which were decided in favour of J and in relation to which Boyd now appealed: (i) was the second taxation being conducted under RSC O.62 rather than the CPR, with the consequence that J was a practising solicitor within O.62 r.18(6) and hence entitled to charge for her time as a solicitor; (ii) was the hourly rate of £120 claimed by J excessive; and (iii) had an excessive allowance been made for time J had spent working on documents.HELD: (1) The second taxation had clearly been governed by the CPR and not RSC O.62. J's entitlement to costs stemmed from the order of Jacob J in January 2001. It followed that the assessment now fell within CPR 51 PD.18(1). (2) The evidence disclosed that prior to the advent of the CPR J had not practised as a solicitor who was entitled to charge for her time. It followed that for the period up to April 1999 she could only recover her costs as a litigant in person. (3) For the period after 1999, J still fell to be regarded as a litigant person unless financial loss could be proved. That issue had not been dealt with below and would have to be remitted. (3) Insofar as J's costs fell to be fixed by reference to the fixed hourly rate of £9.25 for a litigant in person, the issue as to the appropriate hourly rate fell away. However, that issue remained relevant if J were able to prove financial loss. In all the circumstances, this court considered that a rate of £50 was appropriate. (4) There was no substance in Boyd's complaint as to the time allowed to J for working on documents.Order accordingly. Issues of financial loss and appropriate monthly rate for the period from 1 April 1996 remitted to the costs judge.

[2003] EWHC 413 (Ch)