The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has said that several “malevolent” challenges to Costs Lawyers’ right to appear in court have no merit, after obtaining the advice of barrister Roger Mallalieu from 4 New Square.
The specialist cost counsel has told the ACL that costs Lawyers have an absolute right to conduct all costs proceedings within the limits of their statutory powers – regardless of the circumstances in which they are retained or employed.
Cost lawyers have recently been subject to challenges after the organisations they work for have been found to not be regulated or authorised to conduct litigation or provide advocacy. The ACL says that this situation has arisen due to the Costs Lawyer Standards Board not yet having a scheme of entity regulation in place.
The Costs Lawyer Standards Board is currently consulting on introducing a scheme of entity regulation next year.
However, Mallalieu has advised that the Legal Services Act 2007 specifically exempts costs lawyers from having to work in authorised bodies until entity regulation is introduced.
He also told the ACL that costs lawyers should have systems in place to ensure that any non-authorised persons they work with are not engaging in reserved activities in order to ensure their position is as robust as possible.
ACL chairman Sue Nash said that the challenges had gone to the very root of costs lawyers' raison d’etre and therefore needed to be challenged.
“We are keen to hear from any costs lawyers who have, or are currently experiencing, any challenges to their audience rights," she said.
"If appropriate, the Association would consider being joined as an interested party to the relevant proceedings. It is important that a clear legal precedent is established to prevent further unwanted satellite litigation of this kind.”