Committed to Costs in the Face of Reform
MATTHEW HOE >
Director of Dispute ResolutionWed 14 March 2018
Taylor Rose TTKW’s specialist costs department has a 20 year history, but now faces challenging market conditions owing to the effect of the costs reforms over the last five years. As several major names leave the market, Director of Dispute Resolution Matthew Hoe explains why Taylor Rose TTKW remains committed to providing costs services.
When established firms disappear from the market, clients may be nervous about whether their provider will disappear as well. We have reached a decision on our future. We will explain the reasons but first and foremost we want clients to know that we are dependable. Also if other compensators find themselves looking for a new provider, please think of us.
We are unique among defendant costs firms. Others are solely working in the insurance or claims sectors. We have a broader, stronger base. Ten years ago, Jaggards was exclusively a costs firm. Through mergers and a long-term diversification strategy we are now part of a greater whole in Taylor Rose TTKW, which approaches the status of a full-service firm. Costs work now makes up a minority percentage of turnover. This stronger base means we are not vulnerable to the ebbs and flows of the costs market.
There has been a general year on year downturn in the market over the last five years. That is the effect of fixed costs. As old claims run off, costs negotiators are not needed as much. Critics may say we are the authors of our own misfortune. We actively supported Lord Justice Jackson’s reforms, providing extensive data to his costs reviews in 2009 and 2015. That data was the foundation for the fixed costs regimes. But we strongly believe that fixed costs are in our clients’ best interests and the broader social interest and it was the right thing to do.
Costs work has always had lean margins. However our working practices, supported by our bespoke in-house developed case management system, allow us to offer a scalable service. It is easy to bulk up when needed and equally easy to scale down. The margins remain the same – and viable.
Looking to the future, there is still much to do. We look always to what is on the horizon:
- Fixed costs will be expanded in the new couple of years (once some attention is wrenched away from Brexit). We have run some of the landmark fixed costs cases of the past decade: Nizami v Butt, Kilby v Gawith, Solomon v Cromwell, Dockerill v Tullett, Bird v Acorn Group, Hislop v Perde. Not all those cases went as we hoped but we have spoken out about the defects left in their wake. We want to take the important test cases to clarify the new fixed cost regimes as needed.
- This year we will tackle the new bill of costs. We have a plan already and will assist our clients through what might otherwise be a bewildering and opaque change.
Training is becoming an increasingly important part of what we do. In order that insurers can deal with fixed costs in house, there needs to be a program of training to upskill the handlers who will take on this work. Fixed costs have never been as easy as intended, but with training we believe the right result can be obtained in most claims without needing external advisors like ourselves.
We also find our skills being reapplied on audit work. Negotiating between the parties costs starts with a forensic examination of the papers. That same examination can be used for other results. We have been asked to audit compliance with service level agreements, solicitor and own client billing and leakage.
Finally I pay tribute to the expertise of the team here. Many have worked in the department for longer than I have – which is fifteen years. It would be a tremendous waste to disband such a pool of knowledge.
We are here for the long haul and will be here when you need help with any costs issue.
For more information on how our experts can assist you please contact us on 01733 333333.
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