Having recently received notice of an allocation hearing at Norwich County Court, I and the defendant’s solicitor managed to agree directions and a trial timetable to assist the court and avoid the need for the hearing to proceed.

Strangely, despite us both writing to the court to confirm our agreement, the response was that the hearing would not be vacated without a formal application and the appropriate fee, and the parties were to attend.

On the basis that both representatives were based in the north-west, it was requested in the alternative that the hearing take place over the telephone. Again, this was refused.

Despite various telephone calls and emails, the parties were ultimately left with no alternative than to go to the time and expense of each instructing counsel to attend at short notice, only for the court to then decide – on the morning of the hearing – to vacate it. Both barristers have, naturally, claimed their abated brief fees in full.

Aren’t we meant to be trying to save costs? I cannot help feeling that, had the parties wasted costs like this in the current climate, severe penalties would have been imposed.

Greg Hall, Manners Pimblett Solicitors, Cheshire