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Alpha C​ourt Chambers

Sarah Robson, Called 2002

LLB (Hons)

Sarah Robson

Fixed Costs specialist

Sarah Robson has a fully civil practice based in Daventry Northamptonshire - in the East Midlands.

She specialises in costs, particular fixed costs and costs to do with the MOJ Portal.

Sarah is also a 3rd Degree Black Belt and Instructor of Tae kwon do, and can break a 1 inch thick piece of pine wood with her bare hands.

Sarah specialises in Costs and Personal Injury cases, with particular emphasis on:

  • MOJ Portal and SIIIA Costs; (see MOJ Portal page)
  • Fixed Costs;
  • Premature issue and Conduct;
  • Breaches of the Personal Injury Pre-action Protocol; and
  • Practice Direction on Pre-Action Conduct

Her practice also includes Liability orders.

Sarah is an experienced advocate with a strong reputation in court. 

Sarah is known for her thorough preparation, and for providing detailed and practical advice. A high percentage of her business is from repeat clients and referrals.

Sarah is regularly asked to lecture on the MOJ Portal, and is a self-confessed anorak on the topic.

Click here for article by Sarah Robson which appeared in FOIL (Forum of Insurance Lawyers) November 2012. 'The Quirks of the MOJ Portal'.

Click here for an interview with Sarah Robson which appeared in Claim Magazine December 2012. 'Sarah Robson: Inside the Portal.' This is in PDF format.

Reported Cases

Sarah's many reported cases include:

  • Ullah v Jon (Portal admissions binding in Part 7 proceedings)
  • Jarosz v Nabgalay (predictive costs)
  • McNiven v Walsh (solicitor's conduct)
  • Ghattaorya v Bailey (miscellaneous expenses)
  • Harwood v Kapek (miscellaneous expenses)
  • Pathak v Collins (solicitor's conduct and costs)
  • Dominic v Martin (MOJ Appeal - where to go when range given)
  • Patel v Fortis Insurance (MOJ Portal Test case - technical non compliance with Portal)
  • Uppal v Daudia (MOJ Portal - unreasonable conduct and indemnity costs)
  • Alrahi v Ellis (conduct)
  • Newham Borough Council v Stratford Magistrates (setting aside liability orders)
  • Jamil v Harling (solicitor's conduct)
  • Chantelle Smith v Irving (solicitor's conduct)

Please see the MOJ Portal page for details of Sarah's Portal cases.

Harwood v Kapek (2010) LTLPI 21/7/2010

Sarah was defending in this personal injury disposal case in front of HHJ Harrington. C sought to recover £50 miscellaneous expenses. However, the court accepted Sarah's submissions that the claim for miscellaneous expenses should be disallowed in its entirety, confirming the lower judge's decision on this point in Ghattaorya v Bailey (below).

The judge added that it was 'only common sense that sums should be particularised and that as the round figures referred to in the witness statements were fairly general, such an award should not be made.'

This is an important decision for defendants - particularly when defending close part 36 offers, as reducing special damages can be the key to success.

Instructed by Judith Hartley of Horwich Farrelly LLP Sheffield.

Alrahi v Ellis (2009) LTLPI 04/06/2010

Sarah was defending in this personal injury disposal case. Whilst the defendant had beaten their pre-issue part 36 offer, she also successfully argued the claimant should not get all their predictive costs because of their failure to follow the pre-action protocol.

Pre-issue, the claimant had only made 2 highly unrealistic offers which was not 'negotiation' as required by the protocol, further C had failed to supply evidence in support of some of the specials. (Jamil v Harling (2007) LTLPI 18/3/2008 considered.)

The judge reduced the claimant's costs to 2/3rds of the profit costs allowable under the predictive fees regime, plus the medical disbursements. The defendant was also awarded interest on their costs at 8%.

This decision shows that where there is a breach of the pre-action protocol, the judge has a wide range of cost sanctions available even where a defendant has beaten their offer and the starting position in practice is for C to get predictive costs.

Instructed by Graham Isaacs of Berrymans Lace Mawer LLP Manchester (now of Hill Dickinson LLP.)

Ghattaorya v Bailey (2009) LTLPI 05/10/2009

Sarah was again defending in this personal injury disposal case. The claimant claimed for a 24 - 38 month neck and lumbar spine whiplash injury, with a 2 years travel anxiety. However, the court found the evidence of the claimant to be extremely unsatisfactory. The court awarded for a 6-months neck injury, disallowing the claim for the lumbar spine and all specials relating to the lumbar spine.

The court also disallowed the claim for miscellaneous expenses in its entirety, noting that the cost of telephone calls was relatively low nowadays. The judge commented that claiming for miscellaneous expenses was a bad habit claimant solicitors had got into.

Instructed by Patrick McCarthy of Horwich Farrelly Solicitors, Manchester.

Pathak v Collins (Sept 2008) LTLPI 27/3/2009

In a personal injury disposal case, Sarah successfully argued that the winning claimant should not be entitled to any costs. The claimant suffered a 4 month cervical spine whiplash injury. Prior to the issue of proceedings, the claimant had made a global Pt 36 offer in the sum of £2,362.35 and the defendant had made a global Pt 36 offer in the sum of £1,900. The defendant beat her offer.

Sarah successfully argued that the claimant's single pre-issue offer was highly unrealistic (approx £2,000 for generals for a bare 4-month whiplash) and therefore the claimant had failed to comply with the pre-action protocol by not entering into any genuine negotiations.

She further contended that to further the over-riding objective, the court had to disallow all the claimant's costs because to allow even predictive costs would give the claimant what they would have received had the protocol been complied with.

The judge held that the claimant's offer was wholly unrealistic and they had not complied with the rules and pre-action protocol wholeheartedly. The claimant could not recover her costs for up to 21 days after D's offer, which would normally apply, nor even predictive costs, but only the medical report disbursement. This was because of the claimant's unrealistic stance pre-issue on a bare four-month whiplash and her failure to comply with the protocol. Also, her costs schedule was, on any view, inflated.

Yvonne Hazel Painting v University of Oxford (2005) [2005] EWCA Civ 161, Haywood v Haywood (2006) LTLPI 2/6/2006,Smith v Chantelle Irving (2006) LTLPI 26/2/2007, Mark Chatburn v Spicer (2007) LTLPI 19/6/2007 and Jamil v Harling (2007) LTLPI 18/3/2008 considered.

Instructed by Graham Isaacs, Berrymans Lace Mawer Solicitors, Manchester.

R (on the application of Newham London Borough Council)v Stratford Magistrates' Court (Interested party 'Dublin') [2008] EWHC 125 (Admin), [2008] RA 108, [2008] All ER (D) 17 (Jan) [2008]

On judicial review Sarah successfully argued that the Magistrates' Court had erred in setting aside liability orders which had been made 2.5 to 5.5 years earlier.

The lower court should have had regard to the principle of finality of litigation; if a defendant's case was a liability order should be set aside and the delay in applying was because he had only very recently learned of its existence, the court had to investigate how long that notice was. It was insufficient to say it would be in the interests of justice to set aside a liability order.

Instructed by Robert Taylor, Barclay Taylor Solicitors, London.

Jamil v Harling (2007) LTLPI 18/3/2008

Sarah successfully resisted an application by the claimant to accept the defendant's payment in out of time, whilst still retaining Pt 36 costs protection. Also the claimant advanced a head of claim for which there was no evidence.

The judge held the solicitors for the claimant should have come off the record once it became apparent they could not support this head of claim.

Sarah successfully argued the claimant should not recover any costs because of their poor conduct. The court ordered the claimant was not entitled to any costs or disbursements, not even up to 21 days before the defendant's payment in, and the claimant had to pay all the defendant's costs.

Instructed by Philip Dearden, Ashton Morton Slack Solicitors, Sheffield (now Horwich Farrelly.)

Smith v Chantelle Irving (2006) LTLPI 26/2/2007

Sarah successfully argued no costs should be awarded to the successful claimant in a disposal hearing because of the conduct of the claimant's solicitors. The court held the claimant's solicitors had grossly over-valued the claim and failed to enter into real negotiations having only made one unrealistic offer before issue. Further, the claimant's costs were exaggerated and difficult to justify. The court ordered a partner from the claimant's solicitors to file and serve a witness statement explaining their conduct to the judge.

Instructed by Philip Dearden, Ashton Morton Slack Solicitors, Sheffield (now Horwich Farrelly.)


Sarah is married to the children's author, Mark Robson, and has two children.

Sarah is a 3rd Dan Black Belt in TAGB Tae kwon do - and is officially 'Dangerous' and 'Fearless' - both in and out of court. 

She is also a fully qualified instructor of Tae Kwon Do, and with her husband runs several Tae kwon do clubs across the East Midlands.

Sarah enjoys ski-ing (including virtual ski-ing on the Wii) Air Hockey and Thai Cooking. She is very competitive!

For further details see

Sarah is based in Daventry, Northamptonshire, and covers most of central England and Wales.