For significant costs disputes, Arbitration may be the most appropriate form of ADR to achieve a swift, private but binding outcome. 

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In both domestic and international arbitrations contentious costs issues arise from time to time, which may become problematic to the Arbitrator’s in writing their award or result in the dissatisfaction of the parties engaged in the process. 

CADR panel members are available at every level to provide expert assistance formally utilising any method of ADR to resolve the issue, or less formally engaging them for expert advice to guide the parties toward a solution, or perhaps assist the arbitrator in writing an Award. 

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The majority of our panel are mediators; we envisage mediation as being the most effective ADR solution in resolving costs issues efficiently.

When Mr Justice Holman recently pronounced himself “frankly flabbergasted” on hearing of a £1.3 million costs bill in a divorce action he was discussing proportionality – and conduct.  These are, of course, key factors in the daily practise of costs lawyers whose livelihood and skills turn on balancing a winning service to clients with a realistic analysis of what a court might do should the SCCO or regional costs judge be called upon to decide the dispute.  It should never get that far: where simple negotiation fails then, as Mr Justice Holman’s brother and sister judges are repeatedly saying, there is a better way – mediation.

In almost any dispute that is otherwise bound for detailed assessment, the sensible first step is to engage a skilled costs mediator.  Their role is to play devil’s advocate, to challenge and to reality-test, and to assist the parties to reach an accord by understanding why they have been unable to bridge the gap through conventional discussion, and helping them to a solution which their principals (and their principles) can endorse.

This is where CADR comes in: by providing expert neutral costs lawyers trained specifically in costs mediation, there are both immediate savings to be taken, in time and fluency, as well as benefits for the paying and receiving parties in that cases do not have to be trial ready, or judge resistant – simply at a stage where with the assistance of the skilled neutral, a resolution can be reached that works for all.

No one should be flabbergasted that 90% of costs mediations settle in four hours, where everything else other than a hearing has failed.  No one should go to a hearing without trying this option.

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As a legal advisor you always feel that you have acted to the best of your abilities in advising your client throughout the piece of work you have undertaken for them, be it contentious or non-contentious. Then comes the issue of fees and payment of the same. This can become a prickly issue and sometimes more contentious than the underlying piece of work. What you need is a cost-effective and quick alternative to a Solicitors Act solicitor/client assessment which can be lengthy and expensive and often further sours the solicitor/client relationship. Not to mention the added publicity.

All methods of ADR are well suited to achieving a satisfactory outcome for all parties however it is our experience  that  mediation is well suited to the lay client as they have the opportunity to address their grievance. CADR can provide a qualified mediator with extensive costs experience who, in the course of a mediation, can bring the parties together to see if a resolution can be reached not only in the context of the immediate legal costs but also in the context of the wider commercial solicitor/client relationship.

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Early Neutral Evaluation may be a good solution to resolving a costs dispute when the parties are keen to find a resolution however their vastly differing views on the technical issues are proving problematic and hindering settlement.  

The process of Early Neutral Evaluation involves a neutral person with expert costs knowledge evaluating and providing a preliminary assessment of the points of the case, or any technical issue in it. Early Neutral Evaluation is a non-binding form of ADR however provides the parties with an unbiased expert opinion on positions as to the likely outcome if the case were to be heard in court. 


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Expert Determination can be an effective ADR method for resolving costs disputes.

Expert Determination is a confidential process involving an independent expert who makes a binding decision (unless otherwise agreed by the parties) on technical issues. The expert has the authority to ask questions of the parties, subject to the procedures adopted at the outset, before rendering their decision. Expert determination can offer an effective solution to resolving a technical issue or dispute. This ADR method is simpler and cheaper than court or arbitration and can be used as a short cut but retaining a binding decision.


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From time to time, rather than engaging in a formal process of ADR, a legal costs issue in any arena can quickly and effectively be resolved simply by seeking the advice of one of our panel of experts. 

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CADR’s fixed fee paper assessment service is available through binding and non-binding methods. Both forms of the paper assessment will be undertaken within 28 days.

Peter Hurst and Colin Campbell will be assessing all forms of CADR’s paper assessments exclusively.

It will cover all formal bills of costs up to £75,000 inclusive of disbursements and VAT; staged in two tiers as defined below in the schedule of charges.

Pre-requisites for the fixed-fee paper assessment services are signed terms and conditions of business and a signed paper assessment agreement.

For both methods of assessment, the documents outlined below are required in the following order:

  • A copy of the formal bill of costs;
  • The document giving the right to detailed assessment;
  • A copy of the points of dispute, annotated as necessary in order to show which items have been agreed and their value and to show which items remain in dispute and their value;
  • A copy of any replies served;
  • Copies of all orders made by the court relating to the costs which are to be assessed;
  • Copies of the fee notes and other written evidence as served on the paying party;
  • Copy of risk assessment/statement of reason in support of success fees and copy of the ATE certificate;
  • Transcript of judgment at trial;
  • Any further papers the assessor may request.

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