As a result of the SCCO Guideline Hourly Rates, some lawyers find it frustrating that they can only recover limited costs, as opposed to other fields of law, whereby they can recover much higher fees. Furthermore, some think that it is unreasonable that the Costs Officer can thereafter reduce these costs upon assessment. Here at Clarion, we aim to maximise the recovery of your legal costs, to ensure that you recover what you are entitled to.
In order to do so, there are a number of things that we recommend based on our experience. In the matter of Michael Ashton (July 2006) Master O’Hare held that Court of Protection work was ‘less taxing’ than other areas of law, resulting in these hourly rates. Although you may not agree with this statement, this is still one of the leading cases in relation to Court of Protection hourly rates, and thus we must adhere to these guidelines. We advise that you ensure that your hourly rates correspond with the SCCO rates, as this will make certain that your WIP figures are accurate, helping you to raise interim bills.
With regards to the same, it is not impossible to claim higher rates than the guidelines, however, the fee earner must consider the complexity of the matter and whether it was possible to delegate the work carried out. In order to justify higher rates, there must be exceptional circumstances.
Furthermore, ensure that you accurately time record your work. We appreciate that different firms have differing levels of technology available, but this need not be the most complex and time consuming system. If you do have the option to tag your time entries, this will help all parties involved when it comes to the costing of the work. Bulk time recording will cause difficulties so avoid this as much as possible.
It is key to note what you did, why you did it and how long it took you. A file note stating these points will make it clear to the costs officer and you are more likely to recover your costs. Even a handwritten note is better than nothing at all. This is particularly important in relation to time spent on documents- if it took you an hour to complete a form, say so.
Additionally, ensure that your file is in chronological order. This will make it easier to for yourself, as well as the Costs Officer.
Finally, make certain that you are reasonable and proportionate in your approach to the work done. The Protected Party should not have to pay for your first class train tickets, or for an hour of a Partner’s time on the phone to British Gas. A common sense approach should be taken by the fee earner to establish this.
If you would like more information on what time is recoverable from the Court in order to further maximise the remuneration of your work, please do not hesitate to contact us.
If you have any questions or queries in relation to this blog please contact Stephanie Kaye (firstname.lastname@example.org and 0113 3363402) or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 2460622.