Wednesday, 21 September 2016

THE LiP FRIGHTENERS

Losing a civil case can be expensive not only when the winner had a lawyer throughout but when they were a litigant in person. Yes, the litigant in person can charge up £19 an hour for their time on the case (more if they actually lost more) plus expenses which may include taking legal advice along the way and even having an advocate at court for one or more of the hearings.  That's why it may be a good idea at an early stage to warn smug lawyers on the other side of what your bill might come to as a litigant in person if you win and that you will be asking the other party to settle it! Different rules apply to small claims. There's more in Breaking Law at chapter 26.

In the more substantial cases which are going ahead in court on what is called the multi-track (they usually involve claims for more than £25,000, claims where the trial is likely to last more than one day or claims which are very complex), the parties who have lawyers on the record as acting for them have to prepare a costs budget which sets out how much they have spent and how much they reckon they need to spend on the case in the future. The budget must be agreed by the other parties or approved by the court which will go on to manage (poke its nose into) what is happening costswise as the case progresses. 

But, on the face of it, the court rules do not require litigants in person to come up with this costs budget though they will see and may object to the budget of the other parties with lawyers. However,  a High Court judge has just decided that the court could order a litigant in person to come up with their advance budget - and did so. In addition to what the claimant in the multi-track case had already spent, his future estimated costs were just over £315,000. The judge ruled that they could include the fees of a QC who the claimant would use by instructing him directly rather than through a solicitor and fees for other legal advice and help.