What is Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS)?
Qualified One-Way Costs Shifting (QOCS) was introduced for all personal injury claims from 1 April 2013.
QOCS dictates that a successful defendant cannot recover his or her costs from the losing claimant, except in a number of circumstances. It applies to all personal injury cases unless the claimant had a pre-April 2013 Conditional Fee Agreement (no win-no fee agreement) and After the Event (ATE) insurance in place.
This means that defendants will generally be ordered to pay a successful claimant’s costs but, subject to certain exceptions, will not recover their own costs if they successfully defend the claim.
On the face of it this seems unfair. However what defendants have lost in recovering costs on cases they win they have saved with the abolition of success fees and ATE insurance they would have paid on the cases they lost.
The claimant can lose this QOCS protection where:-
1. The case is struck out on the grounds that there was no good reason to bring it, it is an abuse of process or for conduct likely to obstruct the just disposal of the proceedings.
2. The case was found to be “fundamentally dishonest”.
3. The claimant fails to beat a defendant’s Part 36 offer.
Number 1 is straightforward and I have previously written about fundamental dishonesty here.
As for number 3, this covers a scenario in an honest claim where the claimant has failed to beat a defendant’s Part 36 offer to settle. In other words, the Part 36 offer regime “trumps” QOCS, so that a claimant who refuses a defendant’s Part 36 offer but fails to do better at trial is at risk for the defendant’s costs from 21 days after the offer is made.
Importantly, the claimant’s liability for the defendant’s costs is capped at the level of damages and interest recovered by the claimant. This highlights the need for a well-placed Part 36 offer being made by the defendant at an early stage in the proceedings.
The rules also do not preclude a successful claimant being deprived of all or part of his or her costs, or ordered to pay the defendant’s costs, in other circumstances, such as where the claimant has failed on an interim application or on some issues at trial.
If you have had an accident that was not your fault, and would like to discuss your personal injury claim on a no-obligation consultation then please get in touch with me. I will be happy to discuss all aspects of your personal injury claim to decide the best way to proceed.
I am a London-based solicitor at Goodge Law and an expert in securing compensation for people who have been injured in accidents that were not their fault. I work on a no win-no fee basis so you will never have to fund any part of your personal injury claim.