How much for a legal punch up?

The problem

If I had a quid for everyone who ever said to me, “Christine, I can’t write you an open cheque” I would not need to work. Most people think going to court means endless bills and no idea what it will cost. Funnily enough, most of our cases don’t get into a court but for those that do, we have a strategy. More on that later.

Money bag

The Solicitors Regulation Authority

Eventually the Solicitors Regulation Authority caught up and solicitors had to provide estimates in advance so people knew what they were in for… or at least they thought they did. But estimates could be changed as the case went on…. and, of course, under our system winner takes all so the loser pays as much of the winners cost as the court thinks reasonable! Each side has to tell the other what it thinks it will spend but again, estimates can be changed.  So we are back to the ‘open cheque book’ scenario.

The courts

Then the courts caught up. In certain types of cases both parties have to tell the court, and the other party, fairly early on in the case, what they expect the
costs will be.  This form of costs budgeting is what His Honorable Lord Justice Jackson recommended in his report Review of Civil Litigation Costs (“the Jackson Report”). The court will give approval for that sum budgeted for – or less – and that is what
the winner can recover from the loser.Good plan. Every knows where they stand

Judge, court, hammer

…..That was until this month. The case was high profile: Sylvia Henry -v- News Group Newspapers Limited  [2013] EWCA Civ 19. It was Sylvia Henry’s libel claim for what was said about her in the press about “Baby P”. On a successful appeal from disallowance by the Senior Costs Judge of a claim for £300,000 over the approved amount (an increase of 56%) the Court of Appeal said that the Costs Judge should take into account all the circumstances of the case and the objectives of costs budgeting.

And so (even though the estimate given for one stage in the claim exceeded the approved amount by a factor of 18) Ms Henry got her costs paid!

A key part of the Jackson reforms that brought in costs budgeting was to keep things on an equal footing and to tackle uncontrolled and disproportionate costs.

So we are back where we started with no certainty.

In the right case we give clients that certainty back by agreeing, at the outset, a fixed fee for each stage of their case and a price for things that may happen but might not. Basically we will do what the Jackson reforms have tried to do for the losers. Then clients can properly budget.

If you want to know more about this funding model please get in touch.

Look out in future posts for guidance for business on how the Jackson reforms might affect you.


Growth Needs Great Leadership

We are pleased to introduce our first guest blog from the amazing John Leach. John is the CEO of The Winning Pitch and author of “Pitch Perfect – Feel the Impact of a Winning Sales Approach” and “The Success Factor”. John has brought an interesting and helpful view to assist our readers on his specialist subject…. Business.

John Leach

Growth is what everyone is talking about at the moment. Whether its public sector policy makers or entrepreneurs, we all need growth. Easy to say but do we truly understand the implications of going for for it! Growth requires a vision; a sense of purpose, a plan, resilience, mental toughness, teamwork and a whole lot more. Whether you are trying to grow a business or turn around a failing school someone has to build a picture of what the future success looks like then execute a plan that gets everyone on board for the journey.

My particular passion is driving the entrepreneurial growth of UK plc. Specifically encouraging individuals who have got what it takes to pursue their ambition of being their own boss, to support existing entrepreneurs to think bigger and truly maximise the potential of their business. As Adam Smith the Scottish philosopher and economist quoted in his book The Wealth of Nations back in 1776, “we are a nation of shop keepers”. Not much has changed. It amazes me that well over 90% of companies in the UK employ under 50 people. Very few ever get past employing more than 25 people.

So why is this? The reasons are wide ranging but all too often the stresses and strains that come with growth are just one step too far for most people. Taking financial risks and the associated personal, professional and commercial challenges which the journey inevitably brings result in the pursuit of a more pedestrian voyage.


There are many schools of thought on what great leadership looks like. However my own insights, (derived from the great fortune of being immersed in a world of successful entrepreneurs) would lead me to conclude that there are ten essential ingredients. Most notably, leaders who drive growth:

  1. Are personally very driven with aligned personal and professional intentions
  2. Are future focused and have clarity of what needs to be achieved
  3. Operate by the philosophy that success is down to 20% thinking and 80% doing –progression involves iteration and this builds momentum
  4. Communicate their purpose and values with passion both internally and externally
  5. Build a team ethos with roles and responsibilities of all clearly mapped out and      monitored
  6. Ruthlessly guard their reputation and have a moral compass which ensures all      decisions are made with best intentions
  7. Have performance management and key performance indicators (KPI’s) embedded throughout their organisation – they know if they are on track
  8. Have a mindset aligned to success. This is supported by an innovative positive mental attitude that delivers the edge
  9. Are readers. They commit to personal development and usually have a mentor who helps locate personal blind spots
  10. Are very self aware, knowing very clearly their strengths and weaknesses.

Leadership and growth are inextricably linked; let’s hope the business stars of tomorrow will emerge over the coming months. A new generation of go getting individuals who will drive innovation, wealth creation, exports and jobs. They are the heros of the economy.

John Leach, Winning Pitch, 18th January 2013

It is a pleasure for me to have John contribute to our blog. He describes himself as a “disruptive thinker”. You can find him on Linkedin and the company website is

Ice Skating, Speed Dating and … Networking!

Now that the silly season in terms of Christmas parties and festive networking events is over and everyone is probably thinking about what events to attend or host for the coming year it got us thinking about some of the more unusual networking events we have been to recently. For example, last year I went to a “Networking on Ice” event at Spinningfields in Manchester City Centre, which was exactly that. Ice skating whilst trying to speak to people and make new contacts. We each had a Christmas card and in 5 minute slots had to skate up to as many people as we could and get them to sign our Christmas card and find out a little about them. For those who couldn’t skate it was more a case of clinging onto the side for dear life and hoping someone would come to you. The saving grace was the mulled wine and goulash at the end!

Firework, new year, celebration, guy fawkes, bonfire night

I also recently went to a “Speed Networking” event at a restuarant in Manchester City Centre which works just like speed dating. It is just about the most exhausting networking event I have ever been to – effectively doing a mini pitch to about 30 people on the trot with barely time to come up for air between each one. It turned out to be a great way of finding out who was in the room and whether you had anything in common. I couldn’t do it every week though.

If you have any interesting events or stories from networking events you have been to, plan to go to or are organising …. please feel free to share. The more interesting the better.

Happy New Year!