07.12.2009Zabihi v Janzemini  EWHC 3471 (Ch)
Key issues: assignment of costs orders, champerty, High Court
In this case the Claimant issued proceedings against two Defendants, but was unsuccessful against the 2nd Defendant. The 2nd Defendant was therefore awarded costs, which they assigned to the 1st Defendant for £1.00.
The Claimant submitted that this amount to champerty because the amount to be paid to the 2nd Defendant was not known at the time and so would lead to further litigation.
It was held that it was a valid assignment and could not be classed as champerty.
04.12.2009Riniker v Employment Tribunals and Regional Chairmen  EWCA Civ 1450
Key issues: Court of Appeal, Failure to acknowledge a claim
This case was an appeal over costs against a failed judicial review of a decision to transfer proceedings – against the Claimant’s wishes – from central London to Watford.
The Defendant served an Acknowledgment of Service, but was 3 days out of time. However, the judicial review was, in any event, rejected.
The Claimant continued her appeal, stating that the Acknowledgment was served out of time, which the Defendant accepted. The hearing took place, but due to illness the Claimant did not attend, and the appeal was rejected, with the Defendant being awarded costs.
The Order was drawn up by the Court, which, amongst other things, stated that costs were summarily assessed, and included the costs of the hearing. However, the Defendant only attended because they filed the Acknowledgment out of time, and so needed the Court’s permission to attend the hearing.
The Claimant appealed this Order, but was rejected. She further appealed and a hearing was held. This further appeal was upheld because the judge at first instance did not consider the impact on the Defendant’s claim for costs of the Acknowledgment being filed out of time.
02.12.2009Beresford and Smith v (1) Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (2) The Law Society  EWHC 3155 (Admin)
Key issues: advice to client, CFA, High Court, success fee
The Appellants in this matter were solicitors who acted for miners in relation to industrial disease claims against the ex-Coal Board.
A scheme had been set up by the Department of Trade & Industry to deal with these. The scheme allowed for costs and ensured that there was no prospect of an adverse costs order. However, the Claimants entered into CFAs with their clients, stating that success fees would be taken out of any damages payment, and it was not explained to the clients that other solicitors would be willing to act for them without a CFA.
The solicitors were subsequent found guilty of misconduct, which was the subject of the appeal.
The appeal was dismissed stating that their clients would not be in a position to consider whether they should enter into a CFA without a full explanation and also any success fee would be minimal.
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