skip to Main Content


Roger Billins

This was a headline from the Law Society Gazette from 23 July 2019. In a case called Timokhina v Timokhin, The Court of Appeal reduced counsel’s fees for a hearing about who should pay the costs of the substantive hearing. The Respondent husband, represented by Withers, turned up to the hearing mob handed with leading and junior counsel, charging £25k and £12.5k respectively whilst the appellant had junior counsel at a modest £1.5k. The Court of Appeal rightly disallowed leading counsel’s fees entirely and slashed the junior’s fees in half.

Such behaviour gives lawyers a bad name. What were Withers doing turning up with leading and junior counsel for a costs hearing and why didn’t they negotiate a reasonable fee with the clerks. I have no doubt that Withers turned up with their own team, all busy scribbling superfluous notes! This is a particularly bad example but the number of times in my career, I have been confronted in court by leading and junior counsel, a partner, associate and trainee with somebody expected to pay for the charade!