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.
Lawyers that are qualified in costs law and practice and specialise solely in legal costs are known as Costs Lawyers.
You might need a Costs Lawyer if you are involved in litigation, or if you have concerns about the fees you have been charged by a legal professional.
What is a Costs Lawyer?
Costs Lawyers are qualified experts in legal costs. They can advise you on issues like:
- the fees that you pay for legal advice (such as solicitors’ or barristers’ fees)
- legal aid costs
- the cost of bringing or defending court proceedings
- costs incurred by other parties to court proceedings that you might have to pay if you lose
These costs can be high and the law on legal costs is complex. Costs Lawyers can therefore represent your interests and help you make informed decisions.
Costs Lawyers are authorised to do three reserved legal activities (where they relate to legal costs): they have the right to conduct litigation, represent their clients in court and administer oaths.
You can find out more about how a Costs Lawyer can help you, and the kind of services they can provide in the FAQs on the CLSB website
Who regulates Costs Lawyers?
The Costs Lawyer Standards Board, or CLSB, is the regulator of Costs Lawyers in England and Wales. It serves the public interest by setting and maintaining the standards of professional conduct by which Costs Lawyers must abide.
You can find out more about the CLSB, including what it does, how Cost Lawyers can help you, on the CLSB’s website.
Are all costs advisers regulated?
No. Costs Lawyers are qualified professionals that must meet certain professional standards set by the CLSB.
Unregulated advisers, including costs draftsmen, can’t carry out reserved legal activities, unless they benefit from one of the limited exemptions that are set out in legislation.
By instructing a regulated Costs Lawyer, you give yourself the best chance of ensuring that your costs adviser can handle all costs aspects of your case.
How am I protected when using a regulated Costs Lawyer?
The Costs Lawyer Code of Conduct issued by the CLSB sets out the professional standards expected of regulated Costs Lawyers.
A regulated Costs Lawyer:
- Is qualified (3 year qualification), and must keep up their training and development throughout their career
- Must treat you fairly and follow a Code of Conduct for ethical behaviour
- Must comply with regulatory rules
- Is insured (minimum £100k Professional Indemnity insurance)
- Has a complaints procedure in place for if anything goes wrong
How do I find a regulated Costs Lawyer?
The names of all Costs Lawyers regulated by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board are shown on the Register of Costs Lawyers. You can use the register to find a Costs Lawyer in your area or search the register to see if a particular person is regulated.
What do I do if I am not happy with a Costs Lawyer?
If you’re not satisfied with any aspect of the service you have received from your Costs Lawyer, the first thing to do is raise the matter with them, or with the firm in which they work.
In the event that your complaint is not resolved within 8 weeks, or you are not happy with the resolution, you can refer a complaint about the quality of service provided by a Costs Lawyer to the Legal Ombudsman, a complaint about professional conductof a Costs Lawyer to the CLSB or the conduct of a solicitors’ firm in which a Costs Lawyer works to the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
If you are not a Costs Lawyer’s client but have cause to complain about a Costs Lawyer’s conduct you should contact the CLSB in the first instance.