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Wigg & Co - procedure on detailed assessment of civil litigation costs

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The relevant rules are contained in Part 47 and the accompanying practice direction. This note is intended to be only a basic guide to the rules, etc and for more information you should refer to the CPR itself or ourselves. For full details see the Justice website.

The time for commencing detailed assessment proceedings is within three months of the event giving rise to the Receiving Party's right to have their costs assessed (Part 47.7). It should also be noted that there is no automatic stay of detailed assessment proceedings if there is an appeal (Part 47.2).

Detailed assessment proceedings are commenced by serving the documents listed below on the paying party/parties. You do not at this stage have to lodge anything with the Court.

(a) notice of commencement (form N252)
(b) signed bill of costs in form
(c) copy Counsel's fee notes and any expert's fee notes
(d) written evidence of any other disbursement exceeding 250.00
(e) a statement giving the name and address of any person upon whom the Receiving Party intends to serve the notice of commencement (eg. where there is more than one Paying Party - this is on the N 252 form).

The rules (part 47.6) only refer to the need to serve the first two documents on the Paying Party to commence detailed assessment. The practice direction expands this to the full list set out above. Failure to serve all of the above may lead to difficulties in enforcing any default certificate (see below).

The relevant sanction for delay is generally disallowance of interest but the Court does have wider powers to disallow costs for use where there has been very serious delay and the Paying Party makes an application requiring the Receiving Party to commence detailed assessment proceedings - see Part 47.8. Additionally it is open to the parties to agree to extend or shorten any of the time limits set out in this Part and you can of course apply to the Court if you require an extension of time.

The relevant fees payable in assessment are as published by the Senior Court Costs Office.

Once the notice of commencement et al has been served the Paying Party has 21 days to put in Points of Dispute (Part 47.9) failing which the Receiving Party may apply for a default costs certificate (similar to judgement in default). A fee is payable and the relevant part of the rules dealing with default costs certificates is Part 47.11. Application to set aside such default costs certificates can be made and may be successful where the formalities required by the rules have not been complied with (eg. if there has not been proper service and probably if copy fee notes have not been supplied) otherwise if the costs are substantial and the Paying Party has reasonable prospects of having the costs reduced. The Human Rights Act 1998 when it comes into effect on 02.10.00 may also have some impact on applications by individuals to set aside default costs certificates entered against them.

If Points of Dispute are received the Receiving Party may then serve (optional) replies (Part 47.13). The time for doing so is 21 days after service of the Points of Dispute. Generally District Judges expect replies to be served.

The next step is to request a hearing. This is done by completing form N258 (Request for Detailed Assessment Hearing) and sending the Court the documents listed on that form. The time for requesting this hearing is within three months of the expiry of the period for commencing detailed assessment proceedings.

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