Compass Costs Consultants Limited, based in Prescot, Manchester and soon to open in London, is the largest Claimant-only Costs Consultancy in the UK. Originally set up by Managing Director Phil Hodgkinson in 2001, the Board of Directors now also consists of Amanda Ashton, Stewart McCulloch BA (Hons), Steven Hartley FALCD (Costs Lawyer) and Tony Armstrong FALCD (Costs Lawyer).
A Better Service
The firm’s ethos is to provide a complete solution for firms requiring an expert costs drafting and negotiation service. In the words of Phil Hodgkinson:
“It is our aim to provide a ‘cradle to grave’ service for clients. From our experience on the other side of the fence, the vast majority of Costs firms provide a service akin to ‘cradle to sickbed’… they reach a certain stage with a file and then progress is delayed, or simply stops!”
To fulfil the ongoing mission of providing a ‘cradle-to-grave’ service, Compass realised it would need to implement an effective case management software system to manage workloads. The firm approached Eclipse Legal Systems – a name that was familiar to Phil Hodgkinson through positive word-of-mouth – to see if they could help.
Working in conjunction with Eclipse, Compass was able to custom-build a system using the tools contained within Proclaim. The system integrates a core case management database with word processing, document management, reporting and diary facilities to provide a complete solution to the working needs of everyone in the firm.
After just 1 week of development, the firm was able to ‘go live’ with Proclaim in early 2003, rolling out the system to all Compass employees. Immediate benefits were noticed in the time it took to create new files. Using the Proclaim database, case input and document management facilities, 60 new cases could be opened – with the relevant schedule of costs being dispatched – in a single day. Prior to the installation of Proclaim, this had been a time-consuming task, with Compass only able to create 10 files in any given day.
Compass employs over 60 staff and projections for 2009 will take staff numbers to nearer 90, dealing with all aspects of contentious legal work. Phil comments:
“Proclaim allowed us to develop our systems and deliver better results far quicker than any of our competitors. It now allows us to quickly turn around Personal Injury work, and has enabled us to deal with a greater amount of high value cases, such as Clinical Negligence, Catastrophic Injury, Commercial Litigation and Multi-Party Actions.”
Compass has over 30 Draftsmen in addition to Negotiators and Advocates, and Proclaim allows all Bills of Costs and Points of Dispute to be scanned and forwarded electronically to clients for instant review. In addition, the firm utilises the FileView online case tracking system to provide real time viewing access for clients. Stewart McCulloch comments:
“Proclaim’s FileView system allows our clients to securely view every one of their files online – free of charge, in real time – and they are safe in the knowledge that everything received from the Defendant is also visible. Being kept abreast of positions in this way is a huge benefit for them, meaning they can keep bang up to speed on progress without picking up the phone, or putting pen to paper!”
In addition, over the last 12 months, Compass has taken advantage of Proclaim’s ability to manage electronic file transfer. Phil Hodgkinson says:
“We have many solicitor clients utilising Proclaim themselves, and we offer a seamless Proclaim-to-Proclaim file transfer service. Fee Earners can simply press a button and send their entire file to us electronically to prepare a Schedule or Bill of Costs and negotiate a settlement. When the file arrives, it is instantly acknowledged electronically by us with our unique file reference. We can then prepare a Schedule within 24 hours for approval electronically by the Fee Earner, and send it to the Defendants immediately. All Proclaim clients who have availed themselves of this facility have seen settlement times reduce by up to a week, which makes a huge difference to cash flow over a given period.”
Thanks to the level of automation Proclaim gives to all aspects of case handling, Compass can complete the preparation of Schedules and Bills of any size and complexity with greater efficiency, whilst still maintaining the very highest quality standards. Compass can also negotiate settlement on behalf of Claimant Solicitors far quicker than ever before, thus increasing cash flow and profitability for the whole chain. Amanda Ashton comments:
“We are now able to process any type of case far quicker, allowing us to take on more work, whilst still maintaining quality of service across the board. With our quicker turnaround times come higher levels of costs recovery, but also consistency in the quality and standard of the work we produce. Proclaim has allowed us to bring the business firmly into the 21st Century, cementing our place as the market leader and increasingly the number one choice in our sector.”
Phil Hodgkinson estimates that the continued investment in Proclaim is a major factor in the ongoing success and expansion at Compass:
“In 2008 we recovered in excess of £100million in Profit Costs for our clients. Our turnover increased by £1.5million and is projected to increase by another £2million in 2009. We predict that the firm will recover in excess of £150million in Profit Costs on behalf of Claimant Solicitors in 2009, doing it faster and better than anybody else. We firmly believe that Proclaim and our development of the system have been integral and crucial in our continued success. Long may the partnership continue!”