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The Costs Landscape in Police, Inquest and Prison Law

08 October 2021

Find out more about the top five takeaways from our recent webinar

Our Costs and Police, Care & Justice teams recently held a webinar on the "Costs Landscape in Police, Inquest and Prison Law". In this webinar we discussed: 

  • Mixed QOCS Claims – what the current state of the law is and the impact on QOCS when a claimant seeks to bring a claim for personal injury as well as claims for non-pi remedies.
  • False Imprisonment – practical hints and tips on ways to limit the Claimant's costs in these cases and a summary of some recent DWF costs cases in false imprisonment claims. 
  • Inquest Costs – how an admission of liability impacts on the recoverability of inquest costs payable at the conclusion.
  • Costs Budgeting – the importance of costs budgeting and the impact on the costs payable at the conclusion. 
  • Guideline hourly rates - an update on the guideline hourly rate review, its impact and next steps.

Here are the top five takeaways from our speakers:

1. Mixed QOCS claims - setting out your stall early

Identifying those "mixed" claims where the Claimant does not have the benefit of QOCS protection in the non-personal injury elements of the claim can ensure that Defendants are able to recover some of their costs, where the Claimant succeeds on their claim.

There are a number of things that can help in these cases but setting your stall out in response to the letter of claim is key. A strong Part 36 offer is one of the most effective tools at Defendants' disposal.

This can result in an order for costs in the Defendant's favour (which could then be offset against the Claimant's damages and costs – Howe v MIB – although this has recently been considered by the Court of Appeal in Ho v Adelekun and judgement is awaited).

2. False imprisonment - identify other sources of liability

False imprisonment claims don't have to be costly.

Costs exposure can be limited by considering whether there are other agencies who may be liable to contribute to the settlement of the claim.

It is also possible to limit costs in some cases to small claims costs, early admissions of liability in the right cases can mean those cases are much less costly than anticipated at the outset.

3. Inquest costs and liability admissions

Inquest costs can be significant and can sometimes account for almost half of the costs. Inquest costs are recoverable if they are reasonable, proportionate and incidental to the civil claims.

Don't worry – there are things you can do to limit the extent of inquest costs that will be recovered. Liability admissions will have a big impact in these cases and proportionality still has an important role to play in assessing the level of inquest costs that is reasonable.

4. Costs budgeting – making the right submissions 

Getting it right at the budgeting stage can make a real difference to the level of costs payable at the end.

This is an opportunity to see in what direction your opponent is headed and being able to accurately predict how much is at stake if the case proceeds to trial. By making the right submissions to the court at the budgeting stage, you can stem the tide of costs being incurred by the other side.

This might reduce their appetite for pursuing the case further and may result in an earlier settlement.

5. Guideline hourly rates

The CJC's final report on Guideline Hourly Rates is disappointing for paying parties.

This review has proceeded in a period of significant long term changes in working patterns of law firms, reduction in real estate and decreasing office footprint. The full economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is not yet clear and will have a bearing on reasonable rates.

The increased rates will have a consequent effect on indemnity spend and it will be necessary to consider reserves on live and future cases in light of the recommended increases.

Get in touch today

Contact the team below to get further info on the webinar and other related services. 

Further Reading