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Edwards v Swindon & Marlborough NHS Trust, Bristol County Court, 28 May 2004

16 June 2004
The issues

Costs – Detailed Assessment – Disproportionality – Grade of Fee Earner – Insurance Premium – Success Fee

The facts

The Claimant brought an action for personal injuries. The accident occurred on 19th December 2000. The letter of claim was sent on 16th August 2001 but did not comply with the protocol because it did not state how the injury was caused. The Claimant’s solicitors clarified the point in letters dated 17th December 2001 and 3rd January 2002. Liability was admitted on 12th February 2002 reserving allegations of contributory negligence. The medical report and Schedule of Loss were disclosed on 5th March 2003. A settlement offer was made of £1,440.00 on 25th March 2003 and after a short negotiation period the case settled at £1,540.00 on 10th April 2003.

Part 8 Proceedings were commenced and a bill was served totalling £5,449.12. An offer of £3,500.00 had been put on 15th July 2003. The matter proceeded to Detailed Assessment. A success fee of 65% was claimed.

The decision

1. Base costs were disproportionate.
2. The matter had been handled by a Grade B Fee Earner. This was inappropriate and a Grade C Fee Earner would be allowed. The charging rate being reduced from £145.00 per hour to £125.00 per hour. Counsel’s fee for drafting Particulars of Claim be disallowed as negotiations were taking place. The insurance premium had been agreed at £560.00 rather than £840.00 claimed.
3. The success fee which was claimed at 65% was disallowed until the date of the risk assessment on 10th August 2001. Thereafter, a 33.3% success fee was allowed including the period after admission of liability. The bill was reduced to £3,368.03. The Claimant paid the Defendant’s costs of Detailed Assessment in the sum of £784.90.

Comments

For further information contact Marie Macfarlane – mariemacfarlane@veitchpenny.co.uk or John Allen at lcjdallen943@aol.com.

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