THURSDAY LAW REPORT: Requirement of Proportionality in Assessing Costs ; 14 JULY 2005 Simms and Others V Law Society ([2005] EWCA Civ 849) Court of Appeal, Civil Division (Lord Justice Auld, Lord Justice Sedley and Lord Justice Carnwath) 12 July 2005

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Proportionality, as such, was an issue only when costs were assessed on the standard basis, and not on the indemnity basis.

The Court of Appeal allowed the claimant's appeal against a decision that he should pay the Law Society's costs, in litigation arising out of its intervention in his solicitor's practice, on the indemnity basis.

Following intervention by the Law Society in the claimant's solicitor's practice, he and his partners applied to the High Court, challenging the intervention on the grounds that the society had acted outside its powers and unlawfully, and that it had had no grounds to suspect the claimant of dishonesty.

Disciplinary proceedings were started against the claimant, it was agreed that the High Court proceedings should await the determination of the disciplinary proceedings. That agreement was embodied in a consent order.

Most of the charges against the claimant were upheld by the Solicitors' Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT), and he appealed against that decision to the Divisional Court. Following the SDT decision, and before the hearing of the appeal, the society applied for summary judgment in the High Court proceedings. The application was allowed, and the judge awarded costs in favour of the society on the indemnity basis.

On the question of costs, the judge noted that the claimant had made a strong attack on the proportionality of the society's response to the High Court application, but regarded those points as matters for assessment, which did not justify his making any special order. The claimant appealed, inter alia, against the decision to enter summary judgment, on the ground that the judge should have awaited the final conclusion of the disciplinary proceedings, and against the decision on costs.

The claimant appeared in person; Timothy Dutton QC (Russell- Cooke) for the Law Society. …