The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has welcomed an upcoming change to the Civil Procedure Rules (CPR) that allows Costs Lawyers to be entered on the court record.
From 6 April, costs lawyers, as authorised persons under the Legal Services Act 2007, will be entitled to conduct litigation and correct existing rules, following an amendment to part 42 of the CPR.
The change means that clients can instruct a costs lawyer directly to represent them on a costs matter before the courts, without the need to instruct a solicitor first as costs lawyers will also have full rights of audience to appear for clients in court.
ACL chairman Murray Heining said that the decision made by the Civil Procedure Rule Committee was a welcome one and further recognition of the standing and professionalism of regulated costs lawyers.
"[It] removes any doubt as to the status of costs lawyers in civil proceedings," he said. "It further distinguishes regulated legal representatives from the unqualified and unregulated.
“At a time when the number of litigants in person is rising inexorably, and trends such as unbundling are beginning to take hold, the ability for clients to go directly to a Costs Lawyer could prove vital in helping them challenge and control their costs liability.”
A survey of ACL members last year found that 80% of costs lawyers expected to see more disputes between solicitors and their clients now that clients represented under a conditional fee agreement have to pay their lawyer’s success fee from their damages.