Blackstone Brief

Ahern v Aon Risk Services Australia Ltd [2021] NSWCA 166

Ahern v Aon Risk Services Australia Ltd [2021] NSWCA 166

BStone Admin - 23 Sep 2021

Judicial review by the NSW Court of Appeal of a District Court judgment concerning a costs assessor’s determination of costs. The Court of Appeal held, inter alia, there was no error by the primary judge.

Main takeaways:

  • Taking a “global” approach to determining the quantum of costs reasonable inter partes is a legitimate approach by a costs assessor and by a review panel;
  • Applying reductions to hourly rates from $550 ph to $460 ph based on such global views is a reasonable approach, and is one which does not require reasons to be provided, as (at [73]):
    An invariable and inevitable feature of (a costs assessor’s) task is to select the appropriate hourly rate, or rates. After a sufficient period of experience, dealing with a great many assessments, many costs assessors would, I apprehend, select an hourly rate somewhat intuitively. It is not a concept that is necessarily reducible to simple articulation of everything that a costs assessor has taken into account in arriving at the hourly rate selected.
  • Application of principles relating to proportionality when considering costs under the old LPA regime (which, unlike LPUL, did not have “proportionality” as a test) are appropriate when considering costs sought relative to the “outcome” of proceedings per LPA s364(2)(f).

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