Nearly half (47%) of all personal injury solicitors at the UK’s top 200 law firms are ignoring their financial and regulatory responsibilities by failing to audit costs once the budget has been approved by the courts.
Research released by Just Costs Solicitors has also suggested that routine costs management guidelines are being widely ignored. The firm says that its findings have raised “major red flags” for the legal profession.
More encouragingly, Just Costs’ survey suggests that the vast majority (86%) of PI solicitors are aware that the rules allow for a further 2% of the approved budget to be recovered for all other costs management work, including attendance at the Costs and Case Management Conference (CCMC).
In other findings, 72% of PI solicitors feel there has been no impact on the ease of agreeing budgets since the mandatory introduction to file a Precedent R seven days before the first CMC, while expert reports are the most difficult phases to agree with opponents.
Just Costs has also revealed that 48% of PI solicitors would like to see the timescale for filing the Precedent H shortened.
“Although it is a time consuming and taxing exercise, auditing costs once the budget has been approved by the courts is critical from both a financial and regulatory perspective,” said Phil Bradbury, head of costs management at Just Costs Solicitors.
“For 47% of personal injury solicitors not to be auditing costs once the budget has been approved by the courts raises major red flags in terms of financial and regulatory best practice.
“There’s no way of sugar-coating it, this percentage is far too high.”
He added that it was encouraging that the vast majority of PI solicitors are coming to terms with the rules in relation to the 2% allowance given for all other recoverable costs of the budgeting and costs management process.