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Sarah Robson Fixed Costs barrister at Speaking Engagement

Sarah Robson


Fixed Costs Specialist

Legal Articles*

* This website is intended to provide general guidance only.

It does not give legal or professional and is not to be used in providing the same.

Whilst all efforts have been made to ensure that the information is accurate, any liability including that arising in is excluded to the fullest extent lawfully permitted for any loss or damage howsoever arising from the use of this information.

SCCO Guide 2023

SCCO Guide 2023

The latest SCCO guide is now out.  Click here for a copy.

Sunrise - very early

Premature Issue

Article on the case of Bobby Prior v Silverline International Ltd, HHJ Wood QC, Liverpool CC, 8th July 2015 now available.  Claimant issue proceedings after 21 days in accordance with the letter of the personal injury pre-action protocol.  However, there was no compliance with the spirit of the protocol.  The Claimant was reduced to pre-issue costs by the Designated Circuit Judge of Liverpool.  Click here for article including copy of the judgment.

Lawyer laughing

Legal Humour

A light-heartedly look at the law and legal profession. (Submissions for inclusion here gratefully received.)

A poor solicitor can cause a trial to be delayed for months. A good solicitor can cause a trial to be delayed for years.

Caveat :

No lawyers were harmed during the construction of this site.

When a person assists a criminal they are aiding and abetting. When a person assists a criminal we call them a defence lawyer.

The pupil barrister carefully warned his client not to lie when giving evidence. He asked if his client appreciated what could happen if he did not tell the truth in court. "We'll probably win" his client replied.

Why did the lawyer cross the road? To sue the chicken.

What's the difference between a good lawyer and a great lawyer? A good lawyer knows the law, a great lawyer knows the judge.

Never mind the dog - Beware of the dog's lawyer.

Start / Stop button

When does a claim start?

Sarah has again successfully argued a claim does not start for the purposes of Part 7 until the court issues the claim. A claim which settles before the court has issued it only attracts predictive costs, per CPR 7.2, PD 7A 5.1 and CPR 44.12A (c), even if the papers have been sent to the court.

Laywers doing calculations over papers

Provisional Assessment Oral Review

In order to recover the costs of an oral review of a Provisional assessment, CPR 47.15(10) requires the applicant to obtain an adjustment in its own favour by 20% or more of the sum provisionally assessed. Is that just the items reviewed or 20% of the whole bill? This issue was considered by Master O'Hare in Keah M B O'Reilly v H R Richmond Ltd, SCCO, 16.09.14. The court confirmed it was 20% of the whole bill, not just the part(s) being reviewed. The court was also invited to use its discretion under CPR 47.15(1)(b) because of the adjustment of more than 20% achieved on the items reviewed, but declined to do so.

Click here for an approved note of the judgment.

Lawyers reviewing papers

What is the nature of a Provisional Assessment Oral Review?

This new procedure has little guidance as to what is and is not allowed. Is an Oral Review just a review, a rehearing, or is it more like an appeal where parties are limited to what they raised in the Provisional Assessment hearing? Cook on Costs has one line stating the court will hear issues 'afresh'.  Dr Mark Friston confirms the same view in Friston on Costs 3rd Edition.  Other than that, there appears to be no guidance at all.


HHJ Wood QC, the DCJ at Liverpool has considered this on appeal twice and has concluded that new evidence can be admitted on oral review.


Download copies of the judgments here in the cases of:

Judicial coat of arms

SCCO Guide 2018

SCCO Guide 2018

The first guide published by the SCCO since 2013 is available. 

Click here to download a free copy of this important procedural guide.

coloured pencils

Miscellaneous Expenses

A lot of fuss and bother over nothing?

Ghattaorya v Bailey LTLPI 05/10/2009

My case of Ghattaorya v Bailey on miscellaneous expenses is several years old, yet it still attracts vast numbers of hits on my site. One cannot its importance when Part 36 offers are close, and thousands of pounds in costs can turn on whether this is allowed or disallowed. Do not ignore miscellaneous expenses!

Claimant solicitors plead ‘miscellaneous’ expenses as an almost mandatory ‘add-on.’ This is to cover the cost of subsidiary expenses which have been incurred because of the litigation. Whilst it is that you cannot recover stress and anguish incurred because of litigation, the miscellaneous claim seems to have slipped through the net as a legitimate expense.

This head of deserves closer inspection: The miscellaneous claim is for telephone calls, postage and stationary - travel is usually claimed for separately. Miscellaneous claims in your average fast track case typically range from about £10 to £50.

There may have been the cost of posting an initial form reporting the incident to the insurer or solicitor, perhaps with a covering letter. However, many insurance companies take a claim over the phone now, rather than requiring the completion of a form, or provide a pre-paid envelope. The postage, therefore, is probably no more than one or two stamps, so less than say, £1.

The cost of stationery – a single sheet of writing if any, well with a ream costing around the £3 mark for 500 sheets that’s not even a penny.

Many insurance companies and solicitors firms provide free-phone numbers or call numbers, e.g. 0845. Some solicitors firms now encourage all correspondence with the lay client to be by email. BT charge mere pennies per minute for geographic calls from a landline, and if the claimant is on an all-inclusive package then there is no extra cost to them. All-inclusive phone packages are more common now, and the chances are more claimants will be on some form of ‘TV/Telephone/Broadband’ package.

Put the claimant to proof and a judge will laugh at you, as there are hardly ever any receipts for these sorts of expenses. Cross-examine, and you risk the wrath of the judge and a stop being placed on cross-examination thus deemed ‘unnecessary’. Most sensible Counsel (with sensible instructions) will get their heads together before trial and some compromise figure.

However, if you must press ahead and attack the claim in court, zip in with a pin-point question. The most devastating attack, however, is simply to ask the judge to compare the length of time claimed on the cost schedule for telephone attendances on the claimant, with the cost at even 5.25p/min for even every single call. The miscellaneous claim is then often dealt a hefty blow by the judge’s pen.

In this case, the judge dismissed the entire head of claim for miscellaneous expenses, noting that claiming for miscellaneous expenses was ‘a bad habit claimant solicitors had got into’.

That principle was approved by HHJ Harrington in Harwood v Kapek (2010) LTLPI 21/7/2010 citing the failure to correctly plead the losses under this head as the reason for not allowing a miscellaneous claim, Ghattaorya v Bailey approved.

There are a few (easier to spell) other cases on miscellaneous expenses, but Ghattaorya v Bailey is the most well known and often referred to.

Click here for a copy of the judgment.

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