In TUI UK Ltd v Tickell & Others  EWHC 2741 (QB), an appeal heard in the Queens Bench Division against a Bill of Costs assessed by a High Court Master, has determined and confirmed that supervision and delegation should be actively promoted.
The claim related to an action involving over 200 Claimants, who in one form or another, had contracted a bug/illness on a specific cruise, ultimately resulting in the recovery of damages of varying amounts.
Within the Bill of Costs the Claimants had claimed time for inter fee earner discussions, supervision of junior members of the team by those more senior and matters generic to the various claims. The time sought was, having regard for the number of Claimants seeking damages, far from excessive (less than 1 hour per year, per Claimant).
The Defendant disputed the inter fee earner discussions, supervision and delegation, highlighting that the same was unnecessary, on a Standard Basis and; that all time claimed within the Bill of Costs relating to the same should be disallowed.
Both the High Court Master and the findings at the Appeal found against the Defendant.
The Appeal Hearing commented that the High Court Master’s original decision was sound; outlining that it was clear a substantial amount of the work and costs sought within the Bill of Costs had in fact been carried out by the more junior members of the team. The need for inter fee earner discussions between members of the team carrying out varying tasks were relevant, realistic and necessary and ultimately ensured the successful conclusion of the matter. The High Court also agreed that a proper team approach had been adopted, with work being allocated to the lowest grade of fee earner whenever deemed appropriate.
The case is important as it now clarifies and confirms that junior fee earners (in this case Paralegals), do require supervision and guidance and that any time claimed by the senior fee earner for assisting with the same should be recoverable against the Paying Party.
Even with the above said, logic would suggest that with lower grades of fee earners now being required to carry out ever increasing amounts of work on cases, with minimal time spent by a senior fee earner advising/supervising, the same must still prove more cost effective than a senior fee earner carrying out the majority of the work.