COSTS LAW: A PRACTIONER'S GUIDE Review - Stephen Walker, mediator and author


Review by: Stephen Walker, mediator and author, SCMA Newsletter



If you mediate disputes where legal costs are an issue - and that is most of us - buy this book. Page 1 of the Executive Summary says that it is "essential reading for all legal practitioners who want to understand the impact of costs on their cases and clients."


Everyone knows the importance of costs at mediations when the parties are trying to decide whether to settle or fight. In 189 pages this snappy, practical book makes you feel confident that you are up-to-date and able to talk the same language as the practitioners. Mediation clients and their advisers like to feel that their mediators know what they are talking about.


Laura Slater, as editor, has done much better than most of the editors of compilation volumes that I have reviewed recently. There is minimal overlap, duplication or contradiction. The Executive Summary gives a useful framework ably supplemented by Dominic Swallow's Introduction.


15 chapters are divided into four sections: Budgeting, Funding, Offers and Recovery, and Practice Area Focuses. The authors are practising solicitors, barristers, costs lawyers. Plus as an added bonus a former SCCO Costs Judge Colin Campbell and a current litigation funder Nick Rowles-Davies, the MD of Burford Capital.


All the usual costs topics- past , present and future- are covered.  Section I on Budgeting describes what is actually happening in estimating and assessing costs with four chapters on Cost Management, Incurred and Future Costs, J-Codes and the New Bill of Costs and Using Technology to Reduce Litigation Costs. Mediators will find this useful as background briefing. .


More directly relevant is Section 2 on Funding. Three chapters cover Conditional Fee Agreements, Damages-based Agreements and Third-Party Funding. All are useful check-lists for mediators, written by people who know what they are talking about-especially the chapters by David Marshall on CFAs and Maura McIntosh on DBAs.


Nick Rowles-Davies' analysis from the funders' perspective will help you assess the bold statements made at mediation about the availability of third-party funding to litigate if the other side don't face reality and settle.

Every client want to know what their net position will be if they go to trial, win and obtain a cost order in their favour. Part 3 on Offers and Recovery is really useful.


Chapter 8 on Part 36 by Iain Stark and chapter 9 on Proportionality and the Jackson Five by Dominic Swallow are particularly helpful for all mediators. Chapter 10 on Qualified One-Way Cost Shifting by Patrick West is a model of clarity and useful for mediators of personal injury disputes.


Part 4 discusses Specific Practice Areas. You can quickly bring yourself up to speed on areas that you need to know about for upcoming mediations.


Chapter 12 by Francis Wilkinson and Sarah Hutton on Costs in Family Proceedings is useful for civil and commercial mediators dealing with hybrid cases.Chapter 13 on Costs in the TCC by Darryl Rhodes and chapter 14 on Costs Management in Commercial Litigation - particularly in construction cases - are more relevant for civil and commercial mediators.


There are two outlier chapters.


* Chapter 15 on Costs in Employment Tribunals by Michael Salter and Chris Bryden explains a topic that is not well understood even by experienced employment lawyers but which is much more relevant than it used to be. An arcane and unnecessarily complex area is clearly analysed and practical advice given.


* Chapter 11 by Colin Campbell on Mediating the Costs of the Action. Mediators looking at the Contents Page will have their eye drawn to this prospect of future business. I have mediated several costs disputes and they do settle.  Even though they are detailed and technical with a tendency towards pointillism rather than impressionism.  If you want to do costs mediations read this really helpful five page analysis.


Sue Nash in her Foreword refers to future editions. Some suggestions:

* An index even in a slim volume is always helpful.

* Practitioners' volumes benefit from numbered paragraphs as Bloomsbury and Wildy often use.

* Practical tips could be highlighted.


These are cosmetic. A very useful, accessible and portable addition to the mediator's library. Thank you Ark Group.


You can order your copy/copies of Costs Law for just £65 (+P&P)

Order your copy here