Erica Bedford successfully represented Michael Rawlinson KC of 12 KBW and Aliyah Akram (formerly of 12 KBW, now of Outer Temple) in respect of their brief fees on assessment in the Senior Courts Costs Office

The underlying claim concerned a hard fought mesothelioma claim which settled 10 days before a six day trial and 4 days before the due date for the skeleton argument.  The claim settled following a surprising offer to settle received shortly after the brief had been delivered and counsel had begun trial preparation.  Despite this, the Defendants argued that no brief fee ought to be payable at all, relying upon the recent well publicised decision in Hankin v Barrington in which Deputy Master Campbell drastically reduced counsel’s brief fee on the grounds of reasonableness before thereafter making dual reductions for both abatement and mitigation of loss. 

Unusually, the Claimant’s solicitor settled their own fees and left counsel to fight on for their fees.

On Ms. Bedford’s advice, Mr Rawlinson KC and Ms Akram prepared a own note as to the importance and complexities of the mesothelioma claim, the matters to be addressed at trial and the allocation of work between the counsel team.  A bundle of documents containing counsel’s own notes and partially drafted skeleton argument were also filed for consideration by the Cost Judge.

Following submissions, Cost Judge Whalan allowed the original brief fees in full as claimed, which he then reduced by 25% to reflect the early settlement through abatement only.

This is an important decision supporting recovery for work undertaken by counsel.  It also highlights the importance of proactive involvement on counsel’s behalf in submitting their own notes and documents in support of their fees. 

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