Earle v Centrica plc
Martin Cox of DLA Piper's Costs Unit recently acted on their profit costs by delegating matters which would normally
behalf of the defendant in the case of Earle v Centrica plc in be viewed as solicitors' work to third parties who could claim
which he successfully challenged the cost of the claimant's as disbursements that which the solicitor would normally
medical expert and agency fees. have been expected to perform within the predictable fee
structure. Any doubt as to reasonableness had to be
In this case the claimant sought payment of a disputed
resolved in favour of the paying party. The claimant was
amount of costs after the settlement of a personal injury
only entitled to recover the record production fee of £50 and
claim. The claimant sustained injuries and consequential
the medical expert's fee of £285, Stringer -v- Copley and
loss as a result of a road traffic incident for which the
Claims Direct Test Cases Tranche 2 Issues, Re considered.
defendant was to blame. The claimant's solicitors gave
notice of the claim and settled it for £3,850 in general and Details of medical experts direct fees are available to
special damages together with costs sought at £2,422.10 but subscribers and authorised users on our Internet based
paid only as to £1,907.72. The defendant's insurers Medical Experts Database Service (MEDS). If you have any
challenged the quantum of the medical expert and agency queries about the use of MEDS please contact Alan Jacobs,
fees and sought clarification before paying what they Partner in DLA Piper's Insurance Group on alan.
contended was proper. The claimant issued proceedings for email@example.com or at +44 (0)121 262 5743.
the balance of the costs of £514.38. The claimant was
If you would like further advice in connection with any of the
entitled to recover costs and disbursements to be calculated
issues raised in this case, please contact Martin Cox in DLA
in accordance with CPR Part 45 (II) (Road traffic accidents -
Piper’s Insurance Group Costs Unit on martin.cox@dlapiper.
fixed recoverable costs). The disputed disbursements
com or at +44 (0)114 283 3413.
consisted of an invoice from MDL Medical Administration Ltd
for £25 (plus VAT of £4.38), a GP note release charge of
£50, and an invoice for £435 for the expert's report. The This document was previously published in October 2005
claimant contended that the use of medical agencies served under the company name DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary UK
to streamline litigation and was a moderating influence on LLP.
Held: There was no principle which precluded the fees of a
medical agency being recoverable between the parties,
provided it was demonstrated that its charges did not exceed
the reasonable and proportionate costs of the work if it had
been done by solicitors. The agency fees could not be
charged as though the work had been done by the solicitors
since the expert's fee had to be a disbursement. The
agreement between the agency and the expert provided for a
fee of £285. The rules were designed to deliver a moderate
and predictable scheme of costs. There was an obvious risk
that solicitors would seek to circumvent the restrictions on
The matters covered in this publication are intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. They are not
intended, and should not be used, as a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. DLA Piper UK LLP will accept no
responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this publication. If you would like further advice, please contact Alan Jacobs
or Martin Cox on 08700 111 111.
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DLA Piper UK LLP and DLA Piper Scotland LLP are part of DLA Piper, a global legal
services organisation, the members of which are separate and distinct legal entities.
For further information please refer to www.dlapiper.com/structure
A list of offices can be found at www.dlapiper.com
UK switchboard +44 (0) 8700 111 111
MANDP Ref: BD/Earle v Centrica plc