Court has power to apply costs management to litigant in person, chief master rules

Costs: LiP could recover legal advice

Costs: LiP could recover legal advice

Courts can make a costs management order in relation to litigant in person (LiP) costs, and LiPs can recover costs where they obtain assistance from lawyers short of them having conduct of the case, the chief Chancery master has ruled.

The claimant in Campbell v Campbell [2016] EWHC 2237 (Ch) had solicitors when the costs management hearing was ordered, but by the time it happened had become a LiP. His QC has continued to represent him on a direct access basis.

The claimant’s costs budget dated 5 August 2016 provided for future expenditure up to the end of trial of slightly in excess of £315,000, having already incurred costs of £547,621. Both sides asked the court to make a costs management order in respect of the claimant’s costs.

Master Marsh said the court’s jurisdiction to costs manage a LiP was not entirely clear, but after he examined various provisions of the CPR – which generally did not indicate that different provisions applied to LiPs – he concluded that he had the power.

Though CPR 3.13 was one provision which did, by expressly exempting LiPs from the requirement to file and serve a budget, “the editors of the White Book 2016 suggest that in spite of this exemption, it is open to a litigant in person to file and exchange a budget if they wish”, he said.

The claimant also sought a declaration that the cost of solicitors from whom he intended to seek advice, but not instruct to have conduct of the case, would be recoverable, along with the fees of junior counsel the solicitors would instruct. It was not disputed that the direct access QC’s fees would be recoverable.

Master Marsh said there was no reason to construe CPR 46.5(3) narrowly so as to prevent a LiP recovering the cost of assistance in the course of their conducting the claim.

“The direct access scheme, whether it is used for advocacy or other assistance, provides a litigant in person with expertise which may be essential to be able to progress a claim in an orderly manner and is likely to be of assistance to the court for that reason. Similarly, it is clearly contemplated that a litigant in person may pay for and recover the cost of ‘legal services’ relating to the conduct of the proceedings.

“In a complex claim, the litigant in person may wish, for example, to obtain assistance with disclosure or the drafting of witness statements. This is part of the unbundling of legal services contemplated by Lord Woolf.”

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