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Civil Costs

Law and Practice


An authoritative and comprehensive work covering all aspects of civil costs

Paperback i

Book printed softcover

Civil Costs: Law and Practice is well established as the authoritative reference for both costs practitioners and those who need a more rigorous analysis of the law than is possible in popular shorter works on the subject. Independent reviewers have said that it is ‘the Bible of the legal costs world’ and that it is ‘a life support system for every litigator’.

All aspects of civil costs law are covered. The detailed commentary is scrupulously impartial, such that independent reviewers have noted that ‘there is not a single proposition put forward that does not have a detailed corresponding reference for the authority’. Reviewers have also noted that on ‘the rare occasion where the writer’s opinion alone is being given, this is made crystal clear’. The authorities are often quoted word-for-word, but even when they are not, they are cited, usually with pinpoint precision. There are literally thousands of footnotes, and where appropriate, difficult points are explained by way of flowcharts or diagrams. All of the rates and figures that a costs practitioner could wish for are set out in easily accessible forms, such as tables and charts.

Many of the chapters have been substantially rewritten for the third edition, and all the major changes and developments since the Jackson Reforms are addressed, including:  

  • Consumer protection and contracts of retainer;
  • Costs budgeting and prospective case management;
  • Relief from sanctions following Mitchell and Denton;
  • Human rights and the recovery of success fees;
  • The rise in applications for security for costs;
  • The greater use of orders for interim payments;
  • Changes in the way the Bar charges for its services;
  • Proportionality under the new overriding objective;
  • Provisional assessments;
  • The expansion of fixed costs regimes;
  • Part 36 offers, in both substantive litigation and in costs litigation;
  • The changes in costs procedure, including the compulsory requirement to make an offer; and
  • Changes to the format of Bills of Costs and Points of Dispute
Civil Costs is written primarily for members of the judiciary who deal with civil costs, and for costs lawyers, costs draftsmen and costs counsel. Civil litigators, barristers practising civil law and managing partners will also find it useful. Unusually for a practitioners’ text, it is well regarded by common law lawyers outside England and Wales. This is because its extensive citation of older authorities makes it easy to identify principles that are globally relevant.


  • The History of Costs
  • The Language of Costs
  • The Status of the Rules Governing Costs
  • The Court's Powers

The Law of Costs

  • The Nature of Costs
  • Orders for Costs (Jurisdiction and Discretion)
  • Orders for Costs (Types of Order)
  • Retainers (General Principles)
  • Conditional Retainers (Conditional Fee Agreements)
  • Errors in Retainers
  • The Indemnity Principle
  • Points of Law
  • The Bases of Assessment (Indemnity Basis and Standard Basis)
  • Acceptance of Part 36 offers and ‘Beating' Defendant's Part 36 offers
  • Costs Capping
  • Security for Costs

The Practice of Costs (Solicitor and Client)

  • Invoices and Bills
  • Solicitor and Client Assessments
  • Compromise and Alternatives to Statutory Assessments
  • Solicitors' Rights and Remedies: Proceedings, Lien, and Charging Orders

The Practice of Costs (Between the Parties)

  • Detailed Assessments between Opposing Parties
  • Summary Assessments
  • Appeals
  • Evidential Issues
  • Representation and Rights of Audience

The Quantum of Costs (Solicitor and Client)

  • The Basis of Assessment between Solicitor and Client
  • Quantum between Solicitor and Client

The Quantum of Costs (Between the Parties)

  • Hourly Rates
  • Additional Liabilities
  • Disbursements
  • Counsel's Fees
  • Fixed Costs, Costs on the Small Claims Track, and Fast Track Costs
  • Points of Principle
  • Value Added Tax
  • Interest Between Opposing Parties

Costs in Particular Circumstances

  • Contracts and Trusts
  • Specific Types of Party
  • Specific Types of Litigation
  • Costs Against the Courts Service
  • Third-Party Funding
  • Precedents
Reviews for previous edition

"this authoritative and indispensible book, which, says Friston, meets the need for a practitioners' text focused solely on the law rather than on policy ...
practitioners tip-toeing into the lions' den of judicial argument on costs will do so with infinitely greater confidence armed with this new edition of 'Civil Costs'"

Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

"a comprehensive work covering all aspects of civil costs, coupled with practical applications, detailed references and precedents ... compulsory reading for legislators, judges and lawyers here ... a valuable reference work which provides a one-stop shop for the law governing civil costs"

New Law Journal

"this book is not a book. It is a life support system for every litigator ... the law of costs does throw up the most esoteric of points and, time after time, you will find your solutions here ...  your life support system will be invaluable. Buy it. Read it"


"the Bible of the legal costs world ... whenever a complex legal costs issue arises on detailed assessment, this is the book that costs judges will reach for to resolve the issue ... head-and-shoulders above any other costs book on the market ... there is not a single proposition put forward that does not have a detailed corresponding reference for the authority ... on the rare occasion where the writer’s opinion alone is being given, this is made crystal clear ... dealing with real, practical issues ... written primarily as practitioners’ text, however, sections of it will be invaluable to students taking the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen’s Modular Training Course ... full of gems that even experienced costs practitioners will have either never come across or long since forgotten ... if you haven't ordered a copy, do so now"

Click here to read the full review

"a new and refreshing work ... reader friendly ... practical and sensible guidance ... overing all topics concerning the assessment of civil costs ... should find its place near to every civil litigator and judge ... I would commend to student and experienced practitioner"


“a breath of fresh air over cost orders … in 1200 pages with a great index and 41 chapters, this authoritative and comprehensive work ranks highly with the most well known annual title … [includes] references to many authorities which are difficult to find elsewhere … a worthy book … advocates do not go into the judicial argument unprotected if they have Civil Costs with them”
 Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor, Richmond Green Chambers

“the obvious question is which one do I buy (Cook or Friston?) both is the answer … an exhaustive technical encyclopaedia of costs … points are covered in exquisite details … footnotes are magnificent … those on the frontline of costs disputes should have this work surgically attached to them … significant contribution to the vast cost landscape”

 New Law Journal

"a good book, and one that I am pleased to have in my library"
The Austrialian Professional Liability Blog
Click here to read the full review

"With this book there is no messing around – it’s all beautifully and sensibly structured and well indexed … There is not a single proposition put forward that does not have a detailed corresponding reference for the authority … Although the book is clearly focused on the needs of costs practitioners, it is a work that cries out to be on the shelf of all those involved in civil litigation. There is certainly not a solicitor or barrister who deals with civil matters who should be without a copy … Whenever a complex legal cost issue arises on detailed assessment, this is the book that cost judges will reach for to resolve the point … If Lord Justice Jackson’s dream of a future where judges are able to take proper control of costs matters is ever to become reality, then this is the starting place. This should be compulsory reading for all members of the judiciary, including cost judges"
 Simon Gibbs, Solicitors Journal Vol 156 no 15 17-04-12
Click here to read the full review

Dr Mark Friston,
Barrister (1997 call, previously qualified as a medic), Kings Chambers, Manchester 

 An acknowledged expert in the field of costs and has appeared in many of the leading cases on costs in recent years. Chambers directory describe him as "[a] supremely forensic lawyer...specific and precise...able to deal with the number crunching aspects of costs with great aplomb." Chairman of the bar Council CFA Committee and was the first practising barrister to qualify as a costs lawyer.

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