The High Court has knocked back a solicitor’s plea for extra interim costs and laid down a checklist for anyone making a similar application.
Master Cook said the application for £150,000 payment in RXK v Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was supported by just one paragraph in the solicitor’s witness statement and failed to address all the relevant issues.
The underlying case was a clinical negligence claim for a birth injury where proceedings were issued in 2016. Judgment was entered for damages to be assessed in 2017, with the claimant also awarded her liability costs subject to detailed assessment. This order also provided for interim payments on account of damages for £100,000 and costs in the sum of £50,000. The request for further costs was brought up as part of further submissions on the issue of damages.
This application for further interim costs failed to adequately address any of the necessary issues and ‘amounted to no more than a cri de coeur for more money’, said the judge. The schedule of costs included in the witness statement was a short summary of all profit costs incurred, but no attempt had been made to apportion the figures between liability and quantum costs.
Master Cook accepted the need for solicitors engaged in heavy and protracted litigation to expect adequate cash flow during the course of the case, but outlined a checklist for solicitors applying for such costs awards.
He said any future applicant should consider including the type of funding agreement arranged with the claimant and details of any payments made, whether any part 36 offer has been made, and details of payments on account of damages made to date.
Solicitors should also consider stating the realistic valuation of the likely damages awarded at trial and a realistic estimate of the quantum costs incurred to the date of the application.
The parties were allowed to serve one further witness statement each and apply to re-list the application for hearing.