Those involved in defending personal injury compensation claims litigated in the courts who have concerns at the ever-upward trajectory of the accounts of expenses received by some pursuer firms will be heartened by a recent decision of Sheriff McKenzie at Glasgow Sheriff Court in the case of Steven Graham v Advocate General where we acted for the defender.
The case settled extra-judicially and the parties agreed than an award of expenses should be made in the pursuer’s favour. During the ensuing negotiations over the size of the pursuer’s account, the defenders objected to the number and length of precognitions taken by the pursuer’s agents and the pursuer’s agent’s fee for preparing for the proof. Agreement could not be reached and accordingly the pursuer’s account was taxed. The court Auditor accepted the defender’s criticisms and reduced the total account by 27% (some 49% of the fees included in the account). The Auditor also decided not to charge any part of the audit fee to the defender. The pursuer objected to this, but the Sheriff did not interfere with the Auditor’s decision. The Sheriff reached the view that he was bound by a number of authorities from the 19th century which provide the Auditor with a wide discretion when taxing accounts of expenses. The pursuer began an appeal to the Sheriff Principal, but this was eventually abandoned.
This decision is helpful for defenders as it will make pursuer’s agents think twice before submitting an excessive account of expenses to the Auditor for taxation. It will be interesting to see the extent to which the Auditor at Glasgow’s approach is followed by other Auditors, and the effect this ultimately this has on the level of accounts submitted by pursuer’s agents in the future