Rights of audience for costs draftsmen

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 [1995], 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.  




The Background


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 Costs Lawyers.


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.


Costs Monkey