Sunday, 28 April 2013

Assessing costs: a nasty shock

Tuesday 12 February 2013 by Rachel Rothwell

With the Court of Appeal’s recent judgment in Henry, much attention has focused on the new costs budgeting rules coming in this April as part of the Jackson reforms. But there is another change on its way that will also affect lawyers and costs professionals quite significantly – and its impact has just been ramped up by a factor of three.
From April, the ‘provisional assessment’ (PA) process that has been piloted in selected courts in the north-east will be implemented nationally. The scheme is designed to cut down on the expense of dealing with legal costs by ensuring that bills below a certain threshold (£25,000 in the pilot scheme) are assessed on paper in the first instance. If a party wants to dispute the court’s provisional assessment, it can request an oral hearing to appeal it - but if it is not then awarded an increase of at least 20% on the costs it was allowed under the PA, it will have to pay the costs of the oral hearing.
There have been mixed reviews from practitioners on the ground who have been through the PA pilot process, with some questioning the fairness of outcomes under it. But the powers that be have considered it successful enough to be rolled out nationally; and lawyers have been given plenty of notice that it is coming. What has only recently come to light, however, is that when the scheme is extended across the country in April, there will be a huge jump in the threshold of bills to which it will apply – from a maximum bill value of £25,000 in the pilot scheme, up to a whopping £75,000.
The first I heard about this was when it was mentioned a few weeks ago by costs master Haworth of the Senior Courts Costs Office, at IBC Legal’s Solicitor’s Costs Conference (I’ve written a report of the conference in February’s edition of Litigation Funding). Haworth mentioned that the reason for the threshold being ‘jacked up’ to £75,000 was unknown to him, and he questioned whether, with the inevitable increase in workload it would entail, the SCCO would still be able to meet its target of dealing with PAs within six weeks.
Should lawyers be concerned about this change? If they care about recovering the full extent of their costs, then yes. The rise in the threshold means there is suddenly quite a lot more at stake under PA. As costs expert Sue Nash at Litigation Costs Service pointed out to me recently, if you put in a bill for, say, £50,000, and the court provisionally assesses it at only £35,000, you have a difficult choice to make. You would need the bill to go up to £42,000 at oral hearing to avoid having to pay for the costs of that hearing. If you achieve only, say, a 10% increase, you could actually end up worse off.
Much will depend on whether judges are getting things right at the PA stage when the scheme goes national – but, as I’ve blogged before, not all judges appear to be terribly interested in costs.
It is worth noting that Jackson himself only ever recommended that PA should apply to bills up to £25,000. But if government did want to extend it, it could have started by implementing the national scheme on the same basis as the pilot – with the £25,000 threshold – but made it clear that, if PA proved to work well over a set timeline, then the threshold would rise to £75,000. That way judges would have the chance to get to grips with the scheme before it was extended, and lawyers would have fair warning of what was coming.
Wouldn’t that have been a more sensible approach?
Rachel Rothwell is editor of Litigation Funding magazine, providing in-depth coverage on costs and the financing of litigation.

Are judges interested in legal costs?

Wednesday 18 April 2012 by Rachel Rothwell

In a year’s time, everything is set to change in relation to lawyers’ costs.
Among Lord Justice Jackson’s many and ambitious plans are a new rule on how to decide whether legal fees are proportionate (met with scepticism by many experts, it must be said), a new process for controlling costs from an early stage with electronically submitted costs budgets, and a new, more efficient, way of dealing with costs assessments on paper in the first instance, rather than incurring the expense of a court hearing.
The driver behind it all is Jackson’s desire to tame an unruly costs beast that has got out of control in recent times. But the reforms will work only if those responsible for implementing them are prepared to deal with what one lawyer describes in April’s edition of Litigation Funding magazine as ‘the elephant in the room’, meaning the judiciary.
Speaking to solicitors immersed day-in, day-out in litigation, there is a concern that actually it is not the rules that are wrong, but the way judges are failing to stick to them; for example by not looking at costs estimates properly or ensuring that parties do not stray from them. Many lawyers see nothing amiss with the current Lownds test to assess the proportionality of costs; the problem is that it is simply not applied properly.
Too many judges lack the understanding, or indeed the will, to address costs issues properly (after all, in the High Court at least, many of those on the bench are former barristers who have never even delivered a bill; they have had well-paid clerks to deal with money matters). Indeed, there is a line of argument that Jackson’s reforms would not have been needed had the judiciary made proper use of its considerable existing powers to keep a lid on costs and manage cases effectively.
The lawyer quoted in Litigation Funding, who was speaking under the Chatham House rule at a recent conference, suggested that some judges can almost be seen rolling their eyes when, at the end of a long trial, the issue of costs arises; it is not as intellectually stimulating as the technical point of law with which they have just been dealing. He added that it is not uncommon to find barristers ill-briefed on costs aspects at the end of a trial.
As Jackson himself acknowledges, judicial training will be essential if his reforms are to succeed. But clearly training alone will not be enough.
With changes to the rules on proportionality, costs management and costs budgeting, Jackson has given judges plenty of new tools to begin fixing the over-active costs machine; but ultimately, none of these will be effective unless there is a change of mindset about costs from the judiciary, and a willingness to tackle the issue head on.
Rachel Rothwell is editor of Litigation Funding magazine, providing in-depth coverage on costs and the financing of litigation.

Arnold Fooks Chadwick has been acquired by Druce

The terms of the transaction are not publicly known other than the press release below. When I called Druce  LLP  they said only one  of the partners were hired  Timothy O' Callaghan  the rest either resigned or were let go, Mr Roger Millman is now no longer  senior partner at Arnold Fooks Chadwick and describes himself as a consultant to Druce.

The old office of Arnold Fooks Chadwick has now shut down and the staff have left.

It is also interesting when going  to Companies House to check the details of Arnold Fook Chadwick that Arnold Fooks Chadwick LLP  had not filed any accounts with companies house.

The financial strength of Arnold Fooks Chadwick  can not be determined as no accounts were issued to companies house.

The official press release states the following:-



Druces LLP has announced its merger with the business of Arnold Fooks Chadwick, a West End law firm specialising in property, employment, charities advice, private client, dispute resolution and business law. Arnold Fooks Chadwick LLP was founded in the 1840s and the merger will see all three existing Arnold Fooks Chadwick’s partners relocating to join Druces at their premises in the City of London. Roy Campbell, Senior Partner at Druces comments “We are delighted to have completed the merger with the highly respected firm of Arnold Fooks Chadwick which is consistent with the joint firm’s policy for continued growth and development.” Roger Millman, Senior Partner at Arnold Fooks Chadwick said: “In this increasingly competitive and complex world the need for greater in-depth back up has become more apparent. Our merger with Druces will give us that back up without losing the personal touch on which we pride ourselves. They are also super people!
For further information please contact: Roy Campbell, Senior Partner, Druces, 0207 216 5554 Roger Millman, Senior Partner, Arnold Fooks Chadwick 0207 216 5525


 Arnold Fooks Chadwick LLP   OC322939  was NOT founded in 1840 it was founded in 05/10/2006 also Roger Millman is now a consultant and the only other person who was with Arnold Fooks Chadwick who shows up on Druce web site is  Timothy O' Callaghan

Arnold Fooks Chadwick LLP OC322939 according to uk companies house web site have never filed any accounts since its formation in 2006.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Arnold Fooks Chadwick Solicitors

J de Rin v Arnold Fooks Chadwick

I had the misfortune to be introduced to this law firm which has now shut down and they say has been merged into a law firm called Druce.

I have  had a very bad experience with Arnold Fooks Chadwick in particular in dealing with Mr Roger Millman who now describes himself as a consultant to Druce solicitors.

When  they were instructed to undertake a mortgage and did not remit all the mortgage funds, I then complained to the Law Society and they were fined only £700.00 which at the time was large fine for the legal complaints department which has now been shut down as they were not fit for purpose.

I dealt with a Mr Roger Millman and Mr Ben Pilbrow who was a trainee at the time. If you have to do business with these people I would make sure you get another lawyer to instruct them especially if you have a fixed budget.

I had a fixed budget of £10,000 they ended up trying to charge me £52,000.00 plus their costs of assessing their bill of a further £46,000 which totalled £98,000.00 .

I managed to get their costs of the assessment  £46,000 dismissed and their bill substantially reduced, by   over 30% knocked off their costs due to their over billing in the Cost Court, but instead of getting my costs paid for in full for getting this reduction the Judge Master Gordon Saker awarded them costs of the lost argument that the costs were capped which amounted to circa £9000.00 the reasons was that I took longer than it would normally take and examined the costs in minute detail. I was penalised as a litigant in person for attending to the  detail  break down of costs and following the court guidelines for the hearing.

I would advise anyone considering working with Arnold Fooks Chadwick or Roger Millman  to get advice from another lawyer before agreeing to their instruction and if you have to go to the Cost Court assume you will not get any cost awarded to you if you are litigant in person.


As the system is weighed so heavily in favour of lawyers who overcharge  you might be best in spending some time with another lawyer to prepare a formal contract of instruction before instructing them to do anything to prevent the lawyer from taking tens of thousands of pounds more than you budgeted for or anticipated.

Tip were possible use a direct access Barrister as they will give you a proper estimate and will not charge more than agreed for a set bit of work. i have found working with Barristers you get much better value for money, they are honest with their estimates and will not spend more unless they enter into a new arrangement in writing to spend more and describe what the additional work is before making you liable for the additional work.