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Bill of Costs

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BILL OF COSTS is the name given to the detailed statement of his charges rendered by a solicitor to his client; and it would include such a statement rendered to a party other than his client who is made liable there for under a judgment or order of Court. The matters in which a client may incur costs to a solicitor may be either contentious or non-contentious. First, then, as to contentious matters. In such cases the charges in respect of the different items, as well as the items claimable themselves, are regulated on different scales. Thus, the costs in an action in which a sum of over £1000 has been recovered will be more liberally allowed than those in an action where the amount is only something over 1'50, and the latter will in their turn be on a higher scale than where the amount recovered is under £20. Again, the scale of costs in respect of an action in the High Court is higher than the scale for County Court actions; each of these Courts having sliding scales also. Speaking generally, the usual allowance for a letter is Ss. 6d.; for an attendance, 6s. 8d.; for drawing documents, is. per folio of seventy-two words; copying, 4d. per folio; but not every letter written may be allowed by the Court, either in a bill as between solicitor and client, or in one as between party and party, nor would every attendance, or document prepared or drawn ; the test would be whether the item in question was a reasonable and necessary one. There is a distinction between a bill as between solicitor and client and one as between party and party. The latter occurs where a party to an action has been ordered to pay the costs of the other side; this bill being taxed as a matter of course, and is payable directly afterwards unless it is otherwise ordered. A party and party bill is, moreover, confined absolutely to services performed in the action as between the solicitor and the other side, and does not include services by the solicitor to or for his own client, the consequence being that the latter finds that although the party has been ordered to pay the costs, there are yet further costs which he himself must pay to his solicitor. Sometimes,

however, a party to an action is ordered to pay the costs of the other side to be taxed as between solicitor and client ; in such a case, the other party to the action should not be required to pay his solicitor anything As between solicitor and client.—This bill should give credit for any costs received by the solicitor in respect of a party and party bill. It must be delivered with all the charges separately made in items, and must distinguish payments out of pocket from profit costs; it must be signed at the foot thereof by the solicitor rendering the bill, and should also bear the date of its delivery. It will be sufficient if it is sent to the client through the post in the ordinary way. The solicitor cannot sue for it until one month has expired from the date of delivery ; during which period the client has a right to have it taxed. It may, however, be taxed at any time within a year from delivery; and if more than one-sixth is taxed off, the solicitor will have to pay the costs of the taxation. Ordinary out-of-pocket payments are in cluded in the amount of the bill for the purpose of arriving at this one-sixth. To obtain taxation of such a bill, all that is necessary is to take out a summons in the High Court; and by taking out a similar summons, a solicitor who refuses altogether to deliver a bill will be forced to do so and to submit to its taxation ; should the result of the taxation be such that money is found payable to the client, the solicitor may be imprisoned if he makes default in payment. Even if the client has entered into a written agreement for payment to the solicitor of a specific remuneration, such agree ment is open to review by the Court where the circumstances of the case render it unjust, and the solicitor may, notwithstanding the agreement, be ordered to deliver a bill and submit to its taxation.

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