Dr Mark Friston

Areas of Practice



Caius College, Cambridge (Medical Science Tripos) (1986)

The Royal London Hospital Medical College (1989)

Member of the Royal College of Physicians (1993)

University of Westminster (CPE) (1996)

Examination for associate membership of the ALCD (2008)

Experience & Expertise

Dr Friston is author Civil Costs: Law and Practice, which is a comprehensive and erudite costs textbook. It has been described as “the Bible of the legal costs world” and “an exhaustive technical encyclopaedia of costs”, and is used internationally as well as at home. One leading commentator has said that “those on the front line of costs disputes should have this work surgically attached to them”. Dr Friston is chairman of the Bar Council Conditional Fee Agreement Committee, and was the first practising barrister to become a Fellow of the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen (which is now known as the Association of Costs Lawyers). He is the only practising barrister ever to have sat as a council member of that organisation.

Dr Friston is a heavyweight in all aspects of costs law and litigation funding. Described in the current edition of Chambers and Partners as having a “frightening intellect”and in the current edition of the Legal 500 as having an “unrivalled knowledge of all aspects of costs and costs litigation”, he tends to focus on appellate and high value matters. He has both a non-contentious and a contentious practice:


Dr Friston is well known for giving business advice to firms of solicitors and insurers. He is heavily in demand for his drafting skills, and is particularly well known for his contracts for funding, bespoke conditional fee agreements, costs sharing agreements, deeds of rectification, etc. He keeps a close eye on the movers and shakers in the field of legal costs, and is able to give up-to-the-minute advice about how best to deal with potential changes in policy.


In so far as contentious work is concerned, Dr Friston’s forte is group litigation and representative claims, costs of commercial disputes, solicitor and client work, and points of law. He has expertise in managing ‘broken retainers’ and disputes concerning VAT. He is developing an interest in litigation other than in the civil courts, such as litigation before a variety of tribunals and arbitral litigation.

Current & Recent Work

  • Epsom College v Pierse Contracting Southern Ltd [2011] EWCA Civ 1449 (the effect and application of Part 36)
  • Brown-Quinn v Equity Syndicate Management Ltd [2011] EWHC 2661 (Comm) (measure for assessment for non-panel firms acting with the benefit of BTE cover)
  • Eden Brown v Office of Fair Trading [2011] CAT 29 (issues-based costs orders in the Competition Appeal Tribunal)
  • Quarmby Construction Company Limited v Office of Fair Trading [2011] CAT 34 (the application of the ‘general rule’ in the Competition Appeal Tribunal)
  • Leeds City Council v Price and others (Legal Services Commission intervening) [2011] All ER (D) 63 (Apr) (Legal Aid in House of Lords)(appeal pending)
  • Gibbon v Manchester City Council [2010] 1 WLR 2081, CA (effect of rejection of Part 36 Offers)(with Craig Ralph)
  • Drew v Whitbread [2010] 1 WLR 1725, CA (applicability of fixed costs)(with Craig Ralph)
  • Blakemore v Supatax [2010] 1 WLR 983, CA (test to be applied to payments on account of costs)(with Paul Hughes)
  • Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals Ltd [2008] All ER (D) 233 (Apr), [2008] 4 Costs LR 582 (disclosure in detailed assessment proceedings) (enforceability of conditional fee agreement)
  • Multiple Claimants v Corby Borough Council [2008] EWHC 619 (TCC) (costs capping in group litigation)(with Craig Ralph)
  • Birmingham City Council v Crook [2007] All ER (D) 191 (Jun), [2007] 5 Costs LR 732 (enforceability of conditional fee agreements)
  • Various Claimants v Gower Chemicals Ltd [2007] 4 Costs LR 647 (enforceability of conditional fee agreements)(with Matthew Smith)
  • AB and Ors v British Coal Corporation [2006] All ER (D) 227 (Oct), CA (success fees under a compensation scheme)
  • Jones v Caradon Catnic [2006] 3 Costs LR 427, CA (concerning materiality and collective conditional fee agreements)(with Paul Hughes)
  • Spencer v Wood [2004] All ER (D) 275 (Mar), CA, [2004] 3 Costs LR 372, (2004) Times, 30 March (enforceability of conditional fee agreements)
  • Smiths Dock Ltd v Edwards [2004] All ER (D) 181 (May), [2004] 3 Costs LR 440 (the quantum of success fees)
  • Mattel Inc v RSW Group PLC [2004] All ER (D) 58 (Jul) (local versus London rates in intellectual property cases)
  • Lownds v Home Office [2002] 1 WLR 2450, CA, [2002] 4 All ER 775, (2002) Times, 5 April(guideline case on proportionality)
  • D v D [2002] All ER (D) 319 (May), [2002] 2 Costs LR 312 (costs in “big money” family cases)

Directory Comments

Dr Friston has been recommended in costs since it was a recognised specialism at the Bar. He has been first ranked in Chambers for many years.

The “brilliant” Mark Friston of Manchester set Kings Chambers is widely praised for his specialist costs practice. A “real star” when it comes to costs work, he is also a noted author on the subject, his book being viewed as “a bit of a bible” by impressed sources. A recent highlight saw him acting in a case concerned with whether interest is recoverable on costs in the County Court.
Chambers UK 2013 – Costs Litigation
Chambers UK (2012) says that Dr Friston attracts high praise for his substantial and specialised costs practice. According to one highly satisfied client, he “provides consistently sound, commercial advice, and has a frightening intellect.” His highlights include advising on the watershed case of Gibbon v Manchester City Council, which helped define the ambit of Part 36 offers.
Dr Friston was described in the 2011 edition of Chambers as “universally lauded for his expertise”. Previous editions have described him as being “up there with the best” (2009), “tremendously boned up on the technicalities” (2007), and “a supremely forensic lawyer” (2008).

Additional Information


Other than Civil Costs, Dr Friston’s publications include the following:
Counting the Pennies,
New Law Journal (2012) No. 162 Pages 26-7
Following Protocol,
Personal Injury Law Journal (2010) No.86 June Pages 9-14
At the Double,
New Law Journal (2010) Vol. 160 No. 7411/12 Pages 491-491
Back to the Future,
New Law Journal (2009) Vol.159 No.7370 Pages 740-742
Contracts Made Away from Solicitors’ Places of Business,
Costs Lawyer (2009) Issue 3, 9-16
Multiplex Lessons,
New Law Journal (2009) Vol 159 No 7350/51 Pages 31-33
Protective costs orders,
New Law Journal (2008) Vol.158 No.7335 Pages 1223-1224
Beating offers,
New Law Journal (2008) Vol.158 No.7323 Pages 782-783
Interest on Costs,
New Law Journal (2008) Vol.158 No.7316 Pages 514-517
Costs draftsmen’s success fees,
New Law Journal (2008) Vol.158 No.7307 Pages 216-217
New Law Journal (2007) Vol.157 No.7288 Pages 1256-1257 and 1308-1309
Post-entitlement agreements,
New Law Journal (2007) Vol.157 No.7278 Pages 890-891
Costs Capping,
New Law Journal Vol.157 No.7269 Pages 546-548
Conduct and Costs,
New Law Journal (2007) Vol.157 No.7259 Pages 216-217
Medical Agency Fees and Rectification of Retainers
(2006) ALCD Journal, July, Pages 1-3

Commissioned publications

  • Risk Free Fees, Solicitors Journal, 30 June 2010
  • Jackson Costs Review Divides Marked, The Lawyer, 18 January 2010, p 10
  • Roles and responsibilities of medical expert witnesses BMJ, Aug 2005; 331: New rules for expert witnesses BMJ, May 1999; 318: 1365 – 1366