Can I charge for incoming telephone calls?

I acted for a client who has been successful in a civil litigation matter and awarded costs. I’m preparing my bill for detailed assessment. May I charge for incoming telephone calls?

Under section 5.22(1) of Practice Direction 47 of the Civil Procedure Rules (procedure for detailed assessment of costs and default provisions), the following costs will, in general, be allowed on a unit basis of six minutes each:

  • routine letters out
  • routine emails out
  • routine telephone calls

The charge is calculated by reference to the appropriate hourly rate.

The unit charge for letters out and emails out will include perusing and considering the routine letters in or emails in.

Under section 5.22(4), the cost of postage, couriers, out-going telephone calls, fax and telex messages will, in general, not be allowed. However, the court may exceptionally use its discretion to allow such expenses in unusual circumstances or where the cost is unusually heavy.

If an exchange of letters or a telephone call which replaces a personal attendance and materially progresses the matter exceeds six minutes, the time should be recorded and charged (see Bwanaoga v Bwanaoga [1979] 2 All ER 105 Fam).


While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information in this article, it does not constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon as such. The Law Society does not accept any responsibility for liabilities arising as a result of reliance upon the information given.

Have you got a practice question?

Call the Practice Advice Service on 020 7320 5675 or email

The Practice Advice Service is staffed Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS