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In 2006 the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen (ALCD) received authorised body status
granting Fellows of the Association rights of audience in costs matters. The first
Costs Lawyers, as they are called, received their new title and rights of audience
in 2007. This was a significant milestone for law costs draftsmen which no doubt
raise their profile enormously within the legal profession and should attract more
members to the Association. Whilst there are other costs specialists in other jurisdictions,
this development must be a world first.
Of course, in consequence one of the key attractions to new members of the Association
of Law Costs Draftsmen could be the prospect of attaining rights of audience in court.
Strictly speaking costs draftsmen who do not have the new rights of audience are
only allowed to appear in court at Detailed Assessment by virtue of the fact that
they are in the employment, or temporary employment, of a solicitor. They do not
have a right to make representations in court.
Authorities on Costs Draftsmen’s Rights of Audience
Waterson Hicks (a firm) v Eliopoulos & Ors , Court of Appeal
The case involved an application to set aside a taxation certificate following a
taxation of costs, as it was then known. The solicitor did not attend the taxation.
Instead an independent costs draftsman attended and the opponents sought to argue
that he had no authority to have conduct at the hearing. Unless there were indications
to the contrary it could be assumed that if a solicitor sends a costs draftsman to
a hearing that costs draftsman has the same authority as the solicitor but it should
not be forgotten that he could only appear as the duly authorised representative
of the solicitor who had instructed him. In any event the actions of the costs draftsman
were ratified by the solicitor in the months that followed the hearing. Leave to
appeal to the House of Lords was refused.
Back in June 2003 an application to the Secretary of State was made by the ALCD for
rights of audience for its qualified members in costs matters. A consultation panel,
the Legal Services Consultative Panel initially objected to certain aspects of the
application and consequently a revised proposal was submitted. The panel reported
back with its recommendations and some very favourable comments. The panel’s full
report, published by the Department for Constitutional Affairs on 14th September
2005 can be found here.
In October 2006 the ALCD proudly reported further details of how the rights of audience
would be awarded and indicated that qualifying members would need to take further
examination in order to be entitled to these rights. A further course was introduced
for Fellows of the Association to qualify for rights of audience and call themselves
From January 2011 the ALCD became known as the ACL (Association of Costs Lawyers)
offering only two levels of membership, Student and Costs Lawyer. For the most up
to date information on the route to achieving this qualification, it is best to contact
the ACL direct.