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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Over a year ago an estate agent employed a debt collector to

Resolved Question:

Over a year ago an estate agent employed a debt collector to try and collect commission they alleged was due to them by me. The first letter was dated December 12th 2012. In my reply dated December 29th 2012 I disputed the claim and said that "the work done to review al relevant material and compile this letter amounted to three hours which I will charge to [the estate agent] at £150 per hour. I will send my bill to [the estate agent] to include any further accumulation of costs on conclusion of this matter."
There followed a number of letters threatening to take me to court with little attempt to answer any of the points that I had made in my defence despite very detailed replies each time. Finally I was taken to the small claims court (the claim was for £2400 including VAT).
The judge found in my favour.
I now propose to issue by bill. It is likely to be approximately £3,500. It will cover actual time taken plus a premium for the aggravation they caused (I complained several times about their harassment).
What are your thoughts? can you advise generally or point me to a website that has dealt with matters like this before.
Thanks you
Will Heard
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is XXXXX XXXXX I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

Is the increase due to the time spent on the Court time please?

Customer:

My bill will be for time spent answering their letters and explaining why in my view they were wrong to pursue a claim. I can add to the bill for the day it took in court if you think that I could do this but the judge did not order costs as such

Alex Watts :

Did you ask the court for costs

Customer:

No I did not do this. My logic (may be flawed) was firstly that I had already told the debt collector I would be billing so I had set up the possibility of billing quite apart from whether or not my appeal was successful (clearly if I had lost I would not be billing any way), secondly because I did not want to "queer my pitch" by making a claim to court which might then negate the possibility or reduce the strength of issuing a separate bill and finally because I understand that the Court has to operate by its own guidelines as to the amount of costs it can award which I think would be less than what I want to claim. (Also "costs" to me mean petrol and lost wages on the day which is not what I want to claim)

Alex Watts :

Its bad news I am afraid. You can't claim costs unless the Court ordered them

Alex Watts :

So the costs of pursuing the claim is just the cost of litigation and sadly unless the Court ordered otherwise you can't pursue them

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not the answer you want and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

Customer:

But surely I can issue a bill independently of the court? If they refused to pay it would go to the small claims court and I can justify why I issued the bill as noted above. I told them I would bill for my time right from the outset and now is the time to bill?

Customer:

Costs on the small claims track


27.14


(1) This rule applies to any case which has been allocated to the small claims track unless paragraph (5) applies.


(Rules 46.11 and 46.13 make provision in relation to orders for costs made before a claim has been allocated to the small claims track)


(2) The court may not order a party to pay a sum to another party in respect of that other party’s costs, fees and expenses, including those relating to an appeal, except –


(a) the fixed costs attributable to issuing the claim which –


(i) are payable under Part 45; or


(ii) would be payable under Part 45 if that Part applied to the claim;


(b) in proceedings which included a claim for an injunction or an order for specific performance a sum not exceeding the amount specified in Practice Direction 27 for legal advice and assistance relating to that claim;


(c) any court fees paid by that other party;


(d) expenses which a party or witness has reasonably incurred in travelling to and from a hearing or in staying away from home for the purposes of attending a hearing;


(e) a sum not exceeding the amount specified in Practice Direction 27 for any loss of earnings or loss of leave by a party or witness due to attending a hearing or to staying away from home for the purposes of attending a hearing;


(f) a sum not exceeding the amount specified in Practice Direction 27 for an expert’s fees;


(g) such further costs as the court may assess by the summary procedure and order to be paid by a party who has behaved unreasonably;

Customer:

These rules do not appear relevant to my point which is that I told them I would bill them for my time in answering their letters. This is not "costs" covered by the small claims rules. except insofar as you can interpret rule (g). These rules do not negate my right to issue a bill surely? Whether I succeed in getting them to pay is another matter which ultimately might form a small claim in its own right.

Alex Watts :

No sadly you can't.

Alex Watts :

You are quite right to quote CPR 27.14

Alex Watts :

But an application must be made on the day when the trial has concluded.

Alex Watts :

You can't just bill later.

Alex Watts :

If there are to be any costs then the Court must decide what, if any to award and ONLY if the Court makes a finding that the Claimant has acted unreasonably.

Alex Watts :

Sadly unless the Court has awarded costs, you can not claim them.

Alex Watts :

Does this clarify the position for you?

Customer:

The judge did not make a finding on the day but sent out a written judgment some weeks later and did not award costs so I hear what you say - I don't expect I will be in this position again but if I am then I will know what to do.

Customer:

Thanks

Alex Watts :

I am sorry. Sadly what you need to do is at the hearing ask for costs in future.

Alex Watts :

If this answers your question could I invite you leave feedback on my service which I hope has been excellent today, if you need more information or help then please click reply.


Please remember that I am always happy to help if you have future questions, even if I am in Court I can normally respond within a few hours. For future information, please start them with ‘For Alex W’.


 


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Customer:

I can't get the faces logos to work but thanks for your excellent service today

Ash and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.
Try this format. Thanks in advance.

Alex