STANDARD TERMS OF BUSINESS
These terms of business and any engagement letter we give you at the start of the matter, state the terms upon which we, Davitt Jones Bould Limited, accept your instructions and how we charge for our services. If there is any conflict between these terms and the engagement letter, the engagement letter will take precedence.
Any reference to Davitt Jones Bould or DJB means Davitt Jones Bould Limited.
Any reference to “the firm" or "us" means Davitt Jones Bould Limited
Any reference to “Work” means the work to be undertaken as outlined in the engagement letter
a) Provide us with clear instructions;
b) Deal with all queries from us in a prompt and courteous manner;
c) Notify us of any restrictions or issues which you are aware of which may impact on our ability to carry out the Work;
d) Promptly provide us with all correspondence, documents and deeds applicable to the Work;
e) Notify us immediately if you become aware of any conflict of interest or any other reason which you believe will restrict or prevent us from acting for you; and
f) Notify us immediately of any change in your details including your address or any other information about you.
If you are a company, we shall be entitled to assume that these terms have been brought to the attention of and have been accepted by all directors and authorised officers of the company.
Our legal services and advice provided pursuant to these Terms of Business are for the benefit only of the contracting party and cannot be used or relied on for any other purpose or by any other person without our prior agreement.
We will carry out the Work in a prompt and professional manner and in accordance with the service levels set out below:
a) We will regularly update you with progress on your Work;
b) We will always seek to communicate with you in plain language;
c) We will explain to you the legal work required as the matter progresses;
d) We will update you on whether the likely outcomes still justify the likely costs and risks associated with your matter whenever there is a material change in circumstances;
e) We will update you on likely timescales for each stage of this matter and any important changes in those estimates;
f) We will inform you if any extra work becomes necessary (for example if requirements or circumstances significantly change). We will also inform you of its estimated cost in writing before any material extra charges and expenses are incurred; and
g) We will advise you of any changes in the law applicable to and during the Work
Unless specifically listed on the engagement letter, or otherwise agreed between us in writing, we are not responsible for reminding you of key dates or other time sensitive actions. We are not advising on trading, marketability, commercial viability, valuation, investment issues (nor, unless otherwise expressly agreed, tax or pensions issues) nor on any law other than English law nor on any aspect other than as set out in this engagement letter. For the “Excluded Work” you will be relying on the advice of your accountants and other advisers as you consider appropriate.
Right to Withdraw Instructions
You have the right to withdraw, without charge, any new matter on which you instruct us, within fourteen working days of the date you first instructed us. However, this right will cease if we start work with your consent within that time.
Ending of Instructions
Once instructed, we will continue to act for you in the matter until its conclusion. If circumstances arise where it is appropriate for you or us to end the instruction, you will be responsible for our fees and expenses up to the date your instruction ends. You will also be responsible for any fees and expenses arising from our ceasing to act for you or the transfer of the work to another adviser of your choice. We will keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
Fees and Expenses
At the outset of a matter we will agree the basis on which we will charge you, and the engagement letter will set out arrangements concerning our fees and expenses.
All work undertaken on a time charged basis is charged in units of 1/10th of an hour. We may be able to agree with you an alternative charging arrangement, such as a fixed fee. Your Client Account Manager will discuss this with you. If our fees are not to be based on time spent your Client Account Manager will write to you about this separately.
Non-routine third party payments such as search fees, Land Registry fees, stamp duty, Counsel’s fees, couriers, travel, accommodation and bulk photocopying will be estimated at the outset of the matter and be charged as expenses/disbursements. We will obtain your approval before incurring any significant expenditure. We will expect to have received funds to cover the costs of disbursements or counsel’s fees before those costs have been incurred. We will charge an Administration Fee for any costs reasonably incurred in the course of instructions. Routine expenses such as non-bulk photocopying, national telephone calls, faxes and postage are included in our normal hourly rates.
The following fees apply when making payments/ making accounts:
TT Fee: £30+VAT
TT Payments to Multiple Parties: £50+VAT in addition to normal TT Fee (Per additional payment)
Administration fee for setting up an Escrow Account: £100+VAT
On the anniversary of the contract commencement date the hourly rate(s) are reviewed (to take account of changes in our overheads) and we will notify you in writing of any increased rate (If you have any query about the revised rates, please contact your client account manager straight away).
Throughout the matter we will continue to review whether there are alternative methods by which your matter can be funded.
Billing and Payment
We will add VAT to bills at the rate applicable unless zero rating or an exemption applies.
Where funds are available, we will deduct our charges from those funds. In all other cases, settlement of our invoice is due on delivery.
Unless otherwise agreed in writing, payment must be received within 28 days from the date of the invoice. We reserve the right to charge interest for late payment at 4% above the Bank of England base rate per year on a daily basis from the date on which payment of our bill is due.
If you have made payments on dates and in amounts different from those we agreed, and we have suffered exchange-rate losses of over 5% of the sums due, then we reserve the right to charge additional amounts to cover our costs.
We do not accept cash from clients or third parties whether to cover the cost of disbursements, fees or for any other purpose.
Payments are only accepted by cheque or bank transfer. Any payment in cash will be rejected regardless of the urgency of a matter. If clients circumvent this policy by depositing cash direct with our bank we reserve the right to charge for any additional checks we deem necessary regarding the source of funds. Davitt Jones Bould will only accept funds into the firm’s bank accounts provided it has been sent from an account held in the United Kingdom. If monies are transferred from an account outside of the United Kingdom, Davitt Jones Bould reserves the right to refuse payment. If payment is refused Davitt Jones Bould cannot be held liable for returning funds to the account from which it was sent.
At our discretion, we can accept payment by credit card. If we do, this will be on the basis that we will charge you a handling fee of 2% of the value of the invoice (including VAT). However, if the invoice is more than 30 days old, the handling fee will be 3.75%.
We can cease acting for you if an interim bill remains unpaid after 28 days or if our reasonable request of a payment on account of costs is not met.
You have the right to challenge or complain about our bill. For details of how to complain about the bill, please see the Complaints section below.
You have the right to challenge our bill by applying to the court to assess the bill under Part III of the Solicitors Act 1974. The usual time limit for making such an application is one month from the date of delivery of the bill. If the application is made after one month but before twelve months from delivery of the bill, the court’s permission is required for the bill to be assessed.
Unless there are special circumstances, the court will not usually order a bill to be assessed after:
Twelve months from delivery of the bill
A judgement has been obtained for the recovery of the costs covered by the bill
The bill has been paid, even if this is within 12 months
We can keep all your papers and documents while there is still money owed to us for fees and expenses.
Payments on Account of Fees and Expenses
We will request you to pay a reasonable sum on account of our charges and expenses incurred and to be incurred during the course of your matter, e.g. before proceedings are issued or if it appears that the matter is likely to proceed to trial. This payment on account will not necessarily be equivalent to the final invoice. If you fail to make that payment within a reasonable time we can, on giving reasonable notice, cease acting for you. Any payments on account will be put in a Clients' Account and, along with interest generated, be set against future bills.
If we are holding any of your monies at the end of a matter we will send them to you. If you do not present the cheque for clearing within six months of the date we sent it to you, we will cancel it for security reasons. We will advise you of this. If another six months pass and we do not receive instructions from you on what to do with the monies, we will give them to a registered charity of our choice if the amount is £50 or less. If it is more than this, we will take instructions from the Solicitors Regulatory Authority on what to do with the monies.
We hold monies on your behalf as trustee. We deposit these monies with such banks as we may from time to time decide in accordance with the Solicitors' Accounts Rules. It follows that we have no immediate control over these monies while they are held on deposit.
It follows that in the unlikely event of the failure of a bank which holds client monies we will not be liable to you for any monies lost. You may in these circumstances be entitled to compensation under the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. You should check with the Financial Services Authority to find out whether or not you would be entitled to compensation.
If you want to know the identity of the bank where your funds are held then we will provide you with details following receipt of your request. If when you receive a response you want us to change the bank where your funds are held you are again entitled to make a written request to us to do this. We will endeavour to move your funds in accordance with your wishes. However, depending on the circumstances, we cannot guarantee that your funds will be moved as and when requested.
It is the policy of Davitt Jones Bould to ensure that a fair and reasonable sum of interest is paid out when we hold money in our client account. Any monies held on your behalf will be in our 'General Client Account'. This account is an instant access account and will track the rate of what is known as the 'Lloyds Business Instant Access Account'. The interest rate is likely to change from time to time. Current rates can be found on the Lloyds Bank website. These rates are monitored to ensure that, in our opinion, they are reasonable and competitive for instant access accounts.
Funds are held on instant access accounts to ensure we are able to facilitate your transaction as efficiently as possible. Rates for these types of accounts may not be as high as those you may be able to achieve if you were investing the monies yourselves.
Interest will be calculated on at the end of the matter. By exception, where monies are held for a significant period of time, interim interest payments may be agreed.
Interest will not be applied where the sum is less than £20. For clarity, this relates to the whole of the period for which client monies are held and not just the sum in excess of £20.
Any amounts paid in lieu of Interest payments from Davitt Jones Bould Ltd are paid gross of any tax liability unless stated otherwise, and will therefore need to be included on your tax return as taxable income.
There is a facility to open designated accounts which will generally offer the same rate, are subject to a minimum of £250,000 and have notice periods. If this is required, separate individual discussions will be needed. Amounts paid in lieu of Interest on these accounts may be paid net or gross of basic rate tax at source according to your tax status. For the avoidance of doubt, this policy also applies to escrow accounts.
If for any reason you do not wish to receive interest payments on a matter or range of matters, please ensure this is made clear and in writing to us when accepting our terms and conditions.
If you fail to present a cheque drawn on our Client Bank account we reserve the right not to recalculate the interest and / or make a reasonable charge for the additional administration incurred.
Instructing Third Parties
If we have to engage other professionals on your behalf (such as counsel, overseas lawyers, accountants, expert witnesses or costs draftsmen), whether in the UK or abroad, we will do so as your agent. We cannot be responsible for any act or omission of such a professional unless otherwise agreed in writing.
Papers Held by Us
When a matter has been completed and all fees paid, we will return to you, at your request, any documents you have provided in connection with that matter and any other papers to which you are entitled. We will keep our file of papers (except for any of your papers which you ask to be returned to you) for no more than 6 years and on the understanding that we have your authority to destroy the file 6 years after sending you our final bill. We will not destroy documents you ask us to deposit in safe custody. If you wish for documents to be held for longer than 6 years, please inform your Client Account Manager.
We do not make a charge for retrieving stored papers or deeds in response to continuing or new instructions to act for you. However, we reserve the right to make a charge based on the time we spend on reading papers, writing letters or other work necessary to comply with the instructions.
It might be necessary for us to pass information and papers relating to your matter to our insurers as part of our insurance arrangements. You accept that by appointing us to act for you we are able to do this.
We will comply if for any reason (whether during or after a case) we are compelled to disclose documents or to give information orally or in writing about a matter or your affairs, under a court order, notice or demand served by a body or person with the authority to make us do so. You must pay us the costs of such compliance at our then hourly rates. If any documents or information are subject to legal professional privilege (and thus confidential), we will let you know and tell you that you have the opportunity to waive privilege. If you decide not to waive privilege and this is challenged, you must pay us the costs we incur in preserving privilege for you.
Unless you tell us otherwise, if a third party has prepared documents for you on our instructions, and you own the copyright in or have a licence to use these documents, we may store the documents on our database in any format for future reference by our lawyers.
Liability of Davitt Jones Bould.
The instructions you have given us create a contract for our provision of services to you. We have a duty to work for you with reasonable care and skill. Our advice and services are for your benefit only and may not be used or relied on by anyone else.
There is no contract between you and any director, employee or consultant of the firm. Any advice given to you, or any other work done for you, by one of our directors, employees or consultants is given or done by that person on our behalf and not in his or her individual capacity. No such person assumes any personal responsibility to you for the advice or work.
You agree that if, as a matter of law, any of our directors, employees or consultants would otherwise owe you a duty of care that duty is excluded from our contract with you. You agree that you will not bring any claim against any of our directors, employees or consultants for any matter arising in any way out of providing the services to you.
Accordingly, any claim you wish to make can only be made against the firm and not against a director, employee or consultant of the firm.
Any reference to Loss means the total of all losses, damages or costs suffered or incurred, directly or indirectly, in connection with the engagement, including as a result of breach of contract, negligence, fault or other act or omission by the firm.
You also agree that in the services we will provide to you, including in particular those described in any engagement letter we send you at the start of a matter, our total liability at law to you for Losses will not exceed any amount stated in the engagement letter. Also excluded is any consequential or indirect loss, whether or not it might have been foreseeable at the start of the matter.
You agree that our liability for Loss is excluded (and we will not accept any liability for Loss) in relation to any single matter or any group of connected matters which may be aggregated by our insurers in excess of either: the amount specified in the scope of work or, if no such amount is specified, the minimum amount of professional indemnity insurance cover required by the SRA (currently £3,000,000).
If we are acting for more than one person, the limit of liability will have to be allocated among you. If the engagement letter does not expressly set out each person's share, that allocation will be a matter entirely for you. If for whatever reason you do not agree on an allocation, then you agree not to dispute the limit of liability on the grounds that no such allocation was agreed.
Our liability to you will also be limited to that proportion of the Loss or damage (including interest and costs) that you have suffered and that a court has ordered against us after taking account of how far any other person responsible or liable to you for the Loss or damage has contributed to it.
We shall not be liable in any way for failure or delay in completing the Work if this is due to causes beyond our reasonable control.
The limitations and exclusions on liability in this section will not apply to any liability for death or personal injury caused by our negligence or for any other liability that cannot lawfully be excluded or limited.
Davitt Jones Bould is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or about the bill, please contact your Client Account Manager in the first instance. Should they be unable to deal with your complaint the next step would be to contact the firm’s Senior Partner. We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on request from our office.
If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask The Legal Ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally you will need to bring a complaint to The Legal Ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint, and within 12 months from when the problem occurred.
The Legal Ombudsman can be contacted at the following address:
Under legal and professional rules we may have to stop acting for you if there is a conflict between your interests and those of another client, or between our interests and your interests. We will not be liable to you for any losses arising from a termination of the engagement.
Subject to compliance with the professional rules that regulate our conduct as lawyers, we cannot be prevented or restricted by reason of our relationship with you from advising other clients, including clients whose interests might now or in the future be contrary to your own.
Duties to the Court
Your matter may involve court proceedings. All solicitors have a professional duty to uphold the rule of law and the proper administration of justice. We must comply with our duties to the court, even where this conflicts with our obligations to you. This means that we must not:
Attempt to deceive or knowingly or recklessly mislead the court
Be complicit in another person deceiving or misleading the court
Place ourselves in contempt of court
Make or offer payments to witnesses who depend on their evidence or the outcome of the case
We must also comply with court orders that put obligations on us and ensure that evidence relating to sensitive issues is not misused.
Equality and Diversity
We are committed to promoting equality and diversity in all of its dealings with clients, third parties and employees. Please contact us if you would like a copy of our Equality and Diversity Policy.
We keep information passed to us confidential and will not disclose it to third parties except as authorised by you or required by law. In certain circumstances the law requires us to disclose information relating to you (for example, payments of interest earned on a clients' account may have to be disclosed under the EU Savings Directive). If on your authority we are working with other professional advisers, we will assume that we may disclose any relevant aspect of your affairs to them. Sometimes we employ other companies to undertake routine administrative work on our files, such as photocopying. We will always seek a confidentiality agreement with any providers of such service. If you do not want us to do this with your file, please tell us as soon as possible.
It might be necessary for us to pass information and papers relating to your matter to our insurers as part of our insurance arrangements. You accept that by appointing us to act for you we are able to do this.
External firms or organisations may conduct audit or quality checks on our practice (e.g. our regulator, the SRA). These external firms or organizations are required to maintain confidentially in relation to your files. Please contact us if you do not wish your files to be disclosed to external auditors.
Where you provide us with fax or computer network addresses for sending material to, we will assume, unless you tell us otherwise, that your arrangements are sufficiently secure and confidential to protect your interests.
The Internet is not secure and there are risks if you send sensitive information in this manner or you ask us to do so. Data we send by email is not routinely encrypted, so please tell us if you do not want us to use email as a form of communication with you or if you require data to be encrypted.
We will use our best endeavours to protect the integrity of our computer systems by screening for viruses on email sent or received. We expect you to do the same for your computer systems.
Privacy and Data Protection
We promise to respect the data we hold on you. We will keep your details on our database for administration and accounting purposes, so that we can make credit searches and send you relevant information on our services and on events that may interest you. Your details will be processed and kept securely in accordance with the Data Protection Regulations. We will not disclose the data to third parties except for the purposes mentioned above. If you have any questions or concerns about our use of your data, please contact the Senior Partner.
DJB are subject to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Legislation and are required to obtain evidence to verify your identity and, if necessary, source of funding before acting on your behalf. Accordingly we may ask you to give us the necessary details. In certain circumstances, we must by law report to the National Crime Agency any evidence or suspicion of money laundering. The law prohibits us from notifying you that a report has been made. If we are not satisfied with the identification provided, we will not be able to act or continue to act on your behalf and will be required to terminate the engagement.
We reserve the right to charge you for any time or costs associated with verifying your identity in order to comply with relevant legislation.
DJB has a zero tolerance policy towards bribery and corruption is subject to the UK Bribery Act 2010. We conduct our business to the highest legal and ethical standard and we will not be a party to corruption or bribery in any form.
Insurance Mediation Activities
We are not authorised by the Financial Services Authority. However, we are included on the register maintained by the Financial Services Authority so that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Services Authority website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register
Rights of Third Parties
For the purpose of the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999, we agree that no term of this agreement with you is enforceable by a third party, except that the directors, consultants and employees of the firm can enforce the limitations and exclusions in the section above headed "Liability of Davitt Jones Bould".
Our relationship with you will be governed by and construed in accordance with the law of England and Wales and be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Courts of England and Wales. However, we mayusually bring legal proceedings in any other jurisdiction, including the jurisdiction where you are domiciled or based, to recover fees or other sums payable to us.
Davitt Jones Bould and DJB are trading styles of Davitt Jones Bould Ltd, a limited company registered in England & Wales (Company Registration No – 6155025) with its registered office and principal place of business at 12-14 The Crescent, Taunton, Somerset, United Kingdom, TA1 4EB. It is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), with registration number 463302. The SRA's rules can be found in its Code of Conduct, available from its website. The Law Society is the designated professional body for the purposes of the Financial Services and Market Act 2000 (FSMA), but responsibility for regulation and complaints handling has been separated from the Law Society's representative function. The SRA is the independent regulatory body and the Legal Ombudsman is the independent complaints handling body.
Lawyers based in the United Kingdom who are admitted as solicitors in England and Wales are regulated by the SRA. Certain lawyers based in the United Kingdom are not admitted as solicitors in England and Wales and are subject to regulation by the Bar Council of England and Wales or by the relevant regulatory body in their place of admission.
We use the word “Partner” to refer not only to a shareholder or director of Davitt Jones Bould Limited, but also to include personnel who are lawyers with senior standing and qualifications.
In giving any advice or carrying out any action in connection with Davitt Jones Bould Limited’s business, persons identified as “Partners” are acting for and on behalf of Davitt Jones Bould Limited, and such persons are not acting in partnership with Davitt Jones Bould Limited nor with each other.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
Mandatory professional indemnity insurance cover is maintained by the firm, to cover acts or omissions arising out of the firm's professional business anywhere in the world. Further details on the firm’s insurers and our territorial coverage can be investigated at out office or obtained by request to [email protected].
Dispute Resolution Matters
Limitation of Claims
There are time limits for starting claims in the Courts and in all other forums (“Limitation”). The most common deadline is 6 years for a breach of contract claim, starting from the date of the breach. If you miss the deadline, you will lose your ability to bring the claim. We will advise you on limitation.
Unless you are an individual in which case it is usually more straightforward, we will check with you who/what is the correct party to bring or defend the claim. Two important elements in getting the correct party are to determine who has suffered/caused the loss and who entered into any contract. Getting the wrong party could cause significant problems.
Retention and Exchange of your Documents
In any dispute, the retention and exchange (“Disclosure”) of documents will be important. You should therefore ensure that your documents are safely stored and well organised. This includes emails. It also includes the metadata, i.e. the electronic data about each document. Your documentation may well be substantial and go back a number of years. Nowadays documentation is often generated and stored electronically, which makes it easier to send to us when we ask for it. The contents of these documents may well determine the outcome of the dispute. We will advise you on Disclosure.
Different Ways of Resolving Construction Disputes
Construction disputes can be resolved in a few different ways, although not all of them will be available to a party in a given situation. More than one of them may be deployed in a dispute, simultaneously or sequentially. The most common are: (1) Litigation (ie the courts) (2) Arbitration (3) Adjudication (4) Expert Determination and (5) Mediation. Litigation and Arbitration are lengthy processes if they run their full course, typically lasting 12 to 18 months. That makes them the most thorough but most expensive. Mediation is a process typically lasting several weeks in which the parties look for a compromise. Adjudication is an aggressive fast-track process typically lasting 1 month, the outcome of which is especially unpredictable given its speed and in which legal costs are rarely recoverable. We will advise you on your options and their risks/benefits.
By legal costs, we mean not just Solicitors’ fees but all fees, costs and expenses that you incur in dealing with your dispute, eg Barrister’s fees, Expert Witness fees and Court fees.
Funding your legal costs: you may have insurance that covers some or all of your legal costs. You should investigate that as soon as possible. You may decide to purchase insurance instead. You should also consider that as soon as possible. We will assist you with any queries you have.
Recovering your legal costs from your opponent(s): in some but not all of the different types of Construction dispute resolution, you will be able to claim some (but rarely all) of your legal costs from your opponent(s), if you are successful in your claim or defence. This is a very important element of dispute resolution and we deal with it further below, together with the other side of the coin, namely your liability to pay your opponent’s legal costs.
Structuring legal fees: we may agree with you that our fees are payable by you on a contingent basis and a Barrister may also agree that with you. The most common forms of contingent agreement are Conditional Fee Agreements (“CFA”) and Damages Based Agreements (“DBA”). We will consider those options with you. They are not common in Construction disputes.
Recovering your Legal Costs and Paying your Opponent’s Legal costs
Legal costs may become substantial sums in a dispute and so they are a vital factor in dispute resolution strategy. Both you and ourselves must therefore keep them under regular review. In particular a party must keep their costs proportionate. E.g. bringing a claim for £1M damages but incurring £2M in costs in doing so, is highly unlikely to be proportionate.
Interest on legal costs can also become a substantial sum. Interest becomes relevant when a party is claiming costs from an opponent, because it will add on interest.
A rule of thumb in dispute resolution is that a successful party will be entitled to recover some of its legal costs from its opponent, and how successful it has been, will determine what proportion it recovers. Another rule of thumb is that a two thirds recovery of costs is the maximum. Increasingly success or failure is determined issue by issue in the dispute, so a party may succeed on some things but not others, and the costs award then reflects that.
At the end of the dispute, if the parties cannot agree liability for costs, the Court will (or Arbitrator etc). That may be via separate proceedings which will themselves attract costs.
Throughout a dispute we will consider costs strategies with you, the most common of which are offers to settle and payments into court. In other words either saying to your opponent that you will pay them £X or accept £Y in settlement of the claim, or actually paying £X into court. Not only will that encourage settlement of the dispute, but with those offers/payments come important costs consequences. If the offer/payment is accepted, the benefitting party will also usually be entitled to most of its costs to date (again say two thirds), unless costs are expressly excluded in the offer/payment which is uncommon. If it is not accepted, but the offering/paying party goes on to do better in the dispute than the offer/payment, it will usually be entitled to its costs from that point on, but at a higher than two thirds basis. There are other costs strategies too.
Interim costs claims and awards, are those made during the dispute, as opposed to at the end. A party may claim costs for discrete elements of the dispute as it goes along, eg if it makes an application to the Court (or Arbitrator etc) for an Order for some sort of relief. For example, a party may think its opponent has not disclosed all the documents it should have done, and therefore makes an application for an Order that the opponent provides that further disclosure. It will add in a claim to be paid its costs incurred in having to make that application. Those costs will include the discussions leading up to making the application, preparing the application and then the lawyers attending it. If the party is successful, it will usually be awarded some of its costs (say two thirds). Conversely if it fails, it will be liable to pay some of its opponent’s costs. These will need to be paid promptly (say within 14 days).
Of course an entitlement to costs, even an Order for Costs, doesn’t equate to actual payment of costs. If a party cannot pay, eg if it has since gone into liquidation, a party may be unable to recover. That goes for the whole claim, ie not just the costs. If a party will not pay but is able to, its opponent may need to take enforcement action, which again generates further costs. These are important factors to keep in mind.
Courts in particular now require parties to sit down with their lawyers early on and draft detailed costs budgets for each of the stages of the dispute through to its conclusion. These budgets then need to be exchanged with the other parties and sent to the Court. There will then usually be a hearing at which these budgets are discussed and the Court decides if it thinks they are reasonable. Where it does not think so, it will adjust the budgets. These budgets are then a constant presence throughout the dispute and it will be difficult to claim any costs from an opponent in excess of the budgeted figures. Drafting these budgets is a lengthy but vital task.
Your time costs
Sometimes the cost of your time (or part of it) is recoverable from your opponent. However it is not straightforward to do so and therefore you should presume that it will not be. We will consider this with you. We will refer to it as “Management Costs”.
The trial is the culmination of the dispute unless there are later appeals. Typically they last a week or two. Some last a great deal longer. They are usually the single biggest cost for a party in any dispute. One or more Barristers will conduct the trial on your behalf and we will work closely with them.
Interim and/or Final Orders are sometimes appealed by a party and sometimes more than once. That then gives rise to a separate process which itself generates additional costs. We will advise you of the opportunities to appeal as the dispute proceeds.
You should consider the need to make reserves against litigation risk.
Compliance with Court Orders
Full compliance with all Court Orders and their deadlines is vital. The consequences of not doing so can be severe, eg your claim / defence being struck out.
Involvement in Dispute Resolution
Dispute resolution is a significant commitment for you in terms of time, risk, money, stress and reputation. It should not be entered into lightly. The outcome to a claim will remain uncertain throughout, not least because it ultimately rests on the decision of a third party (i.e. a Judge, Arbitrator etc.).