Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The "expense" of counsel..

I’m reading - not for the first time - reported disapproval from the judiciary about the instruction of counsel in particular circumstances.

It doesn’t really matter from the point of view of what I have to say but this particular article arises from an old chestnut of infant settlement hearings.

In passing, there is a separate observation about that.  The court rules very properly require additional work from lawyers to safeguard the interests of children even in “small claims”.

I should be interested to know how many school kids, even in this day and age, think that £1,000 (or just under) isn’t a lot of money.  Nevertheless, the expectation of the courts seems to be that the additional work will be done for virtually nothing.

In this and other situations, judges complain about the “unnecessary use of counsel” and the like.  What in heaven’s name is the problem?

By and large, junior counsel attend many relatively straightforward hearings unaccompanied by solicitors, often travelling significant distance, and doing it all at unbelievably modest cost.  So many times it works out cheaper than sending any less qualified person from the office, or from another firm as an agent.

Encouraged by defendants’ representatives who, in the case of liability insurers, will generally run even the most tenuous arguments to try and have costs disallowed, our courts seem blinded by the reference to ‘counsel’.

So often they seem to overlook the obvious point that there has to be some expense and they should ask the obvious question - how much would that expense have been in any event?

So often the answer will be - a lot more than it was to “use counsel”.