I recently attended an oral hearing where the paying party failed to serve a written request for an oral hearing in accordance with CPR 47.15.
CPR 47.15(7) states, “when a provisional assessment has been carried out, the court will send a copy of the bill, as provisionally assessed, to each party with a notice stating that any party who wishes to challenge any aspect of the provisional assessment must, within 21 days of the receipt of the notice, file and serve on all other parties a written request for an oral hearing. If no such request is filed and served within that period, the provisional assessment shall be binding upon the parties, save in exceptional circumstance”.
The paying party believed that they had served the written request for an oral hearing within 21 days of the receipt of notice from the court as they had copied me into their email to the court requesting the oral hearing.
The problem was that they had utilised the wrong email address, therefore, I did not receive a copy of the paying party’s written request for an oral hearing until 3 weeks after the 21 day period had expired, which was when the error was noticed by the paying party.
I informed the court that I believed that the provisional assessment was now binding due to the paying party’s failure to serve a written request within the time stipulated by the rules.
I was surprised that the court listed the matter for an oral hearing and that the paying party had failed to issue a relief from sanction application.
I attended the oral hearing where the Deputy District Judge found that she was unable to continue with the oral hearing as the provisional assessment was binding in accordance with CPR 47.15(7) given that the paying party had failed to serve the written request for an oral hearing within 21 days of the receipt of notice and that serving the receiving party at the wrong email address could not be construed as an exceptional circumstance. The fact that the paying party failed to issue an application for relief from sanction also played a part in the Deputy District Judge’s decision. I was then awarded the costs of and incidental to the oral hearing.
To conclude, if you wish to challenge any part of the provisional assessment carried out by the court for bills which amount to £75,000.00 or less, you must file and serve your written request for an oral hearing within 21 days of the receipt of the provisionally assessed bill and notice from the court.
Mat Knight, Partner and Costs Lawyer