Whether litigant in person can recover costs of claims consultants

A litigant in person can recover costs for work and disbursements which would have been allowed if the work had been done, or the disbursements made, by a legal representative on the litigant in person's behalf. Of issue in this case was whether an earlier decision – Agassi v Robinson [2005] precluded recovery of the costs of claims consultants, on the basis that they are neither work done by the litigant in person nor disbursements which would have been allowed if made by a legal representative.

Jefford J held that Agassi was not authority for a general proposition that costs of claims consultants or other consultants who give advice and support in litigation can never be recovered. The relevant question is whether those costs would have been recoverable as a disbursement if made by a solicitor. Although costs would be recoverable as a disbursement by solicitors if the work is such as would not normally be done by solicitors, nevertheless there may be specialist assistance, the cost of which would be recoverable. The judge went on to point out that: "in particular circumstances, a solicitor might well normally not carry out work himself but rely on a specialist, even though the work in its broad description might be “"solicitors’' work”".

Of particular importance in this case is the fact that it is common for consultants to be involved in adjudication and for solicitors to seek their assistance (eg in drafting witness statements). Accordingly, costs incurred by claims consultants assisting a litigant in person will usually be recoverable on adjudication enforcement proceedings.