Costs Lawyer & Partner
Ben is a Partner in our Bolton office and joined Keoghs in 2008 as a costs lawyer and Fellow of the Association of Costs Lawyers. He has been engaged in legal costs for over 22 years, having previously worked externally for specialist costs firms and in-house for solicitors. Ben deals with between the parties’ costs in high value catastrophic injury claims and attends hearings in the High Court and County Court. He coordinates and manages strategic litigation, advises in fixed costs cases, assists clients with emerging issues in the marketplace, provides costs related training and also delivers regular legal updates.
Ben’s achievements since joining Keoghs include O'Beirne v Hudson and Sulaman v Axa Insurance Plc (both in the Court of Appeal); Pitt v HMRC and Dunhill v Burgin (both in the Supreme Court); Gidman v Patel (challenging the recoverability of counsel’s fees in fixed costs cases); Pirta v Shahi (£450,000 bill of costs struck out); Tucker v Hampshire Hospitals NHS Trust (unreasonable conduct and miscertification of costs budgets); and MXX v United Lincolnshire NHS Trust (sanctions for improper conduct during the costs budgeting process).
Latest Insights by Ben Petrecz
Claims for interest arise from time to time in relation to both rehabilitation and costs. We have taken a look at the current state of play after a recent decision concerning a claim for commercial interest in a claim for costs.
Any advocate regularly attending court hearings will confess that one of the most difficult parts of the job is trying to frantically scribble down submissions from your opponent, or findings made by the judge, whilst formulating counter arguments or working through what the decision means generally for the case you are advancing. As a costs lawyer, there is an added burden of having your calculator out (or Excel spreadsheet open) in order to amend and update figures as costs are being assessed.
Fixed costs regimes are often predicated on intricate rules that are difficult to navigate. The law also moves on quickly via regular updates to the Civil Procedure Rules and a constant stream of case law. I am frequently asked to advise on low value claims where a receiving party has acted unreasonably in bringing a claim outside of a fixed costs regime that otherwise would have applied but for the conduct complained of. When conduct is in issue on low value claims, identifying the starting point for costs and the remedies available can be somewhat confusing. I find that considering questions examined by greater minds than mine helps establish some basic principles to use as a springboard.
As part of Keoghs continuing strategy to drive down claims spend, bespoke training is delivered to increase awareness of trigger-points and tripwires where input from a costs specialist is necessary. Where there are multiple defendants to a claim in areas such as casualty or disease litigation, the costs position at conclusion can often become messy. Sometimes the unsuccessful defendant is required to meet the costs of all parties; at other times, multiple unsuccessful defendants argue amongst themselves over who is paying what proportion of the successful claimant’s costs. This area is ripe for misunderstanding and exploitation.
One of my favourite films as a teenager was Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, starring a very young Matthew Broderick. I considered Ferris a ‘cool’ guy – he was engaged throughout in bold and exciting situations instead of being where he should have been… at school! I frequently watched the film in my youth, dreaming of a life where I would no longer have to be at school day in, day out, and could have similar adventures to Ferris.
Some recent decisions from specialist costs judges bring back into focus the question of how the indemnity principle interacts with approved budgeted costs and good reason to depart under CPR 3.18.