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The case of DXB v The Scout Association was a claim for damages for the consequences of sexual abuse. It settled pre-litigation for £45,000. The claimant’s bill of costs amounted to £97,092.13 plus interest, with a further £30,777.60 claimed for the costs of the detailed assessment. After a significant reduction in the hourly rates claimed the claimant’s solicitors accepted £49,000, a saving of 62.5% for Pro-Global
In response to the bill of costs and prior to Part 8 (costs only) proceedings the defendant made Part 36 offers for £40,000 and then £50,000 which were not accepted. The claimant made a single Part 36 offer for £80,000.
Part 8 (costs only) proceedings were issued and detailed assessment proceedings were commenced. Points of dispute and replies were exchanged with a dispute over the hourly rates and the reasonableness of the time claimed.
The month prior to the detailed assessment hearing the claimant made a further Part 36 offer for £55,000 and advised that the claimant’s costs of Part 8/detailed assessment proceedings were circa £14,300 at that stage.
The claimant’s statement of Part 8/detailed assessment costs for the detailed assessment hearing amounted to £30,777.60. The defendant therefore faced a total claim in excess of £130,000 including interest.
The detailed assessment hearing took place on Friday 18 March 2022 with Justin Edwards, associate Costs Lawyer, Clyde & Co and counsel, Kevin Latham, instructed for the defendant; the claimant was represented by BBK Solicitors.
The claimant sought hourly rates of up to £465. Following detailed argument, Costs Judge Nagalingam reduced the hourly rates significantly and allowed £140-£350 and accepted that the matter was capable of being mainly dealt with by grades B and C (notwithstanding that the grades B and C attained grade A and B status respectively during the life of the claim). The primary rates allowed vs claimed are set out below:
Grade C/B (who attained grade B and A status respectively)
At the hearing interval the claimant agreed to accept £49,000 in full and final settlement after the decision in respect of hourly rates, less than the defendant had offered over seven months previously and prior to Part 8 (costs only) proceedings.
Although it is important for claimants to receive appropriate damages in these sensitive claims, claims for costs will be robustly challenged, particularly where the amount claimed is unreasonable even where QOCS applies as it did in this matter.
Alan Metzger, Pro Global Head of Strategy for abuse claims commented “Pro and our clients are committed to handling child abuse claims fairly and sensitively, with payment of appropriate compensation where liability is established. It is important that survivors receive expert legal advice through the claims process but we will robustly challenge solicitors costs where the sums claimed are unreasonable.”