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Jemma Cost Co Ltd v Liptowtt & Others CA TLR 30 October 2003

The subject matter of this appeal was non-contentious probate costs but the judgments were concerned with an issue fundamental to all costs both non-contentious and contentious.

Quantification of contentious costs is governed by CPR Rule 44.5 (3)(b) the value elements in both costs regimes including the Solicitors (Non-Contentious Business) Remuneration Rule 1994 article 3 (f) describes that one of the circumstances to be regarded in the valuation of solicitors remuneration is "the amount or value of any money or property involved". The value element in respect of both costs regimes is therefore one of the prescribed factors, another is the seven pillars of wisdom and they are the same. In the case cited the Costs Judge took the view that solicitors time recording was now so sophisticated that making a separate charge based on value as recommended by the Law Society was an anachronism. The Court of Appeal held that he was wrong on two counts. First, it was still appropriate for solicitors administrating an estate to charge a separate fee based on the value of the estate provided always that the remuneration was fair and reasonable in the light of the circumstances. Second, by disallowing a change based on the value element and only allowing a miserly hourly rate, the Costs Judge had in effect failed to have any regard to the value element. The judgment read together with the case of Maltby v D J Freeman & Co (1978) 2 All ER The Report 913 emphasised the importance of the value element in both non-contentious and contentious costs and why it is differently in each.

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