Internal Communications – Are They Recoverable?

As Law Costs Draftsman, we appreciate fee earners frustrations when it comes to recovering fee earner communications within Court of Protection matters. Unfortunately, Costs Officers tend to disregard inter-fee earner communications upon assessment, but there are ways to ensure that you do recover the time incurred reasonably and proportionately.

In the case of Garylee Grimsley (1998), it states that claims in respect of discussion between a solicitor, Deputy and his junior employees should be disallowed as these are considered to be covered by overheads. Memos passing between fee earners were also disallowed as they amounted to inter-office liaison which had not added anything to the value of the legal services provided.

However, based on our experience, the Court will consider inter-office liaisons where reasonably incurred. If the matter you are dealing with is particularly complex, it may be appropriate, and indeed more cost effective to seek the advice of a higher grade fee earner. If the matter is being dealt with by a paralegal or trainee solicitor where authority of the Deputy is required in order to progress the matter, this time is also recoverable.

If you encounter issues whereby the work is outside the realms of your expertise, the Court tends to recognise that it is necessary to seek guidance or advice from fee earners in other departments, if it will progress the matter. For example, if the matter is particularly contentious, it may be appropriate to obtain advice from a litigation solicitor.

Although there are a few exceptions to the Court’s allowance, you should never expect for inter-fee earner communications to be recovered. It is a matter for the Courts discretion and resultantly, there is no guarantee that they will allow for your time spent.

In order to maximise your costs recovery, it is key to remember to always prepare a file note, detailing what you have done, why you did it and how long you spent doing it. This will help justify your time and will increase the chances of recovery.

If you have any questions or queries in relation to this blog please contact Stephanie Kaye (stephanie.kaye@clarionsolicitors.com and 01133363402) or the Clarion Costs Team on 0113 3363402.

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