Legal cases take a long time to sort out, especially if they end up in court. Generally speaking, the longer the case the more likely it is that the legal bill will be increasing.
Sometimes lawyers are needed to help sort out issues that can arise from legal costs. Lawyers that are qualified in costs law and practice and specialise solely in legal costs are known as Cost Lawyers.
What can a Cost Lawyer do for me?
Costs Lawyers can help with any legal matter that has legal costs associated with it such as general advice on costs, bills of costs, points of disputes, costs management and costs budgeting.
Regulated Costs Lawyers are afforded the following reserved legal activity rights under the Legal Services Act 2007:
- The exercise of a right of audience.
- The right to conduct litigation
- The administration of oaths.
Who regulates Cost Lawyers?
The Cost Lawyer Standards Board is also known as the CLSB, and is responsible for regulating Cost Lawyers with a practising certificate working in England and Wales.
The Costs Lawyer Code of Conduct issued by the CLSB sets out the professional standards expected of regulated Costs Lawyers and it takes action where necessary in order to keep standards high.
It should be noted that the CLSB only regulates those Costs Lawyers with a practising certificate. The Register of Regulated Cost Lawyers can be located on the CLSB website at the link below.
Costs Draftsmen are not regulated by the CLSB, and may not even have any legal qualification. The CLSB therefore strongly recommends that if you need the services of a Costs Lawyer, you check with the CLSB direct, or via their website, to make sure they are indeed regulated. By doing so, you are also ensuring that the Costs Lawyer is:
- Qualified (3 year qualification)
- Insured (minimum £100k PI insurance)
- Undertakes Continuing Professional Development (12 CPD points a year)
You can find out more about the CLSB, including what it does and what you need to know about regulated Cost Lawyers, on the CLSB’s website.
What do I do if I am not happy with the conduct or service of a Regulated Cost Lawyer?
All regulated Cost Lawyers are required to evidence to the CLSB that they have a complaints procedure in place before they are issued with a practising certificate.
Under that complaints procedure, the Costs Lawyer has the opportunity to deal with a complaint within 8 weeks of receipt.
If a complaint is not resolved within that timescale or to the satisfaction of the complainant then the complainant may refer:
- professional conduct complaints to the CLSB; or
- service complaint to the Legal Ombudsman.
If you want some ideas for putting together a letter of complaint the Legal Ombudsman has set out an example complaint letter that you can look at first.
The Legal Ombudsman’s website has further information and support.
What about problems I have with someone else's Costs Lawyer?
Like all lawyers, Costs Lawyers are professionals who are there to act in the best interests of their client.
The CLSB will not consider a complaint against a regulated Costs Lawyer on the other side where you have not achieved your expected outcome. However, if you do feel that someone else’s Costs Lawyer has not behaved in a professional way you may want to talk to the CLSB. You can find out how to contact them by visiting the CLSB’s website.
How can I tell if a Costs Lawyer is genuine?
As stated above, not all Costs Lawyers are regulated and the CLSB does not regulate Costs Draftsmen who may well have no legal qualifications or insurance.
It is strongly recommended therefore that you check the Costs Lawyer you intend to instruct is regulated. You can do this in one of two ways:
- visit the CLSB website and check on the Register of Regulated Costs Lawyers; or
- call the CLSB and ask, they can be contacted on 0161 956 8969.
Where can I find a regulated Costs Lawyer?
Go onto the Register of Regulated Costs Lawyers on the CLSB website and the firms they work for are listed. If you require specific contact details call the CLSB who will assist you on 0161 956 8969.