You know that Qualified One Way Costs rule thingymajig? The one that says, don't worry claimant, you won't now have to pay costs if you lose?
Well it's rubbish. We are now receiving costs orders all over the place on claims which should be subject to QOCS protection. Why? Well the courts appear to be easily persuaded that there are exceptional circumstances or that applications have involved hours upon hours of work by the defendant solicitors. Our policies are paying out costs quite regularly even though everyone thought this would be just occuring on the odd occasion. Some of them are pretty hefty bills.
We have even had a full costs order from the court despite the Judge being aware that QOCS applies. This decision is being appealed but, if it isn't overturned, we will have a worrying precedent where Judges can override the regulations and leave clients unprotected by ATE Insurance with a very nasty bill. Watch this space - I will let you know how that one goes. Fortunately, this client did take out After the Event Insurance and so we are backing their appeal. What would happen I wonder to the client who is on the wrong end of a costs order but who doesn't have ATE Insurance protection? Would their solicitor be prepared to go to appeal on that one? I doubt it. Not a good place to be - between a rock and a hard place I think the phrase goes.
We are also receiving the usual number of late offer acceptance costs claims. Clients accepting Part 36 offers late are still being faced with hefty bills - just this week one of our clients had to accept an offer made 2 years ago. Costs were £12,000!
So all in all, I think clients are getting a good deal with our ATE polices. I don't know about you but I would be prepared to pay £106 to make sure I didn't get landed with a costs order or disbursements.
Have you read Catch 22 by Joseph Heller? It was all about crews of bombers sent on raids during the Second World War. The crew members tried to get out of going by seeing a doctor and claiming they were 'mad'. The doctor declared them perfectly sane. The reason? Going to see the doctor in an attempt to avoid the bombing raids indicated that they weren't mad but totally rational. It was only the ones who didn't try to avoid the raids who were crazy.
You get my drift?