The general rule in litigation is that the loser pays the costs. Cost budgets are exchanged in multi track cases with a value of less than £10 million. In a recent case the Court was presented with a cost budget for a litigant in person. The litigant had previously used a solicitor but had chosen to act in person. The court ruled that a litigant in person is entitled to recover the cost of advice as part of litigation. The court also allowed the litigant to recover his barristers fees.
This is an important finding and one which may offer some comfort to litigants in person who wish to seek the opinion of a solicitor or a barrister. If a litigant issues proceedings or defends proceedings but then wishes to seek an advice or some assistance with part of the action, i..e drafting witness statements or trial bundles, a litigant will be able to recover the cost.
The claimant in Campbell v Campbell  EWHC 2237 (Ch) had solicitors when the costs management hearing was ordered, but by the time it happened had become a LiP. His QC has continued to represent him on a direct access basis. The claimant also sought a declaration that the cost of solicitors from whom he intended to seek advice, but not instruct to have conduct of the case, would be recoverable, along with the fees of junior counsel the solicitors would instruct. It was not disputed that the direct access QC’s fees would be recoverable. “In a complex claim, the litigant in person may wish, for example, to obtain assistance with disclosure or the drafting of witness statements. This is part of the unbundling of legal services contemplated by Lord Woolf.”