26 January 2012
Provisional assessment (“PA”) is a procedure whereby the court provisionally assesses costs on paper. If either party is dissatisfied, it can seek an oral hearing. However, that party will pay the costs of that exercise if it does not achieve a substantial improvement upon the provisional assessment. This procedure has been used successfully in Hong Kong since 2nd April 2009.
Recommendations in Costs Review Final Report
Chapter 45 of the Final Report contained a recommendation that provisional assessment in respect of bills up to £25,000 should be piloted at one of the larger court centres outside London. If the pilot proved successful, the intention was to introduce this procedure nationally.
The present pilot
The Provisional Assessment Pilot began on 1st October 2010 and completed its first year on 30th September 2011. The pilot is continuing for a second year, but monitoring has been less intense since 1st October 2011 because of other pressures on court staff. The pilot is running at Leeds, Scarborough and York County Courts. The vast majority of cases under the pilot have proceeded at Leeds, which is a much larger court centre than the other two.