It is common knowledge that the SCCO refer to certain case law when assessing Bills of Costs in Court of Protection matters. Although the Costs Officers assess your incurred costs using their own discretion as to what is reasonable and proportionate, there are a number of themes which can be identified from the assessments we are seeing. If something stands out in which case law has determined that it cannot be charged to the Protected Party, it will be reduced or disallowed upon assessment.
A more recent case has come to our attention as we have seen the case quoted more recently on provisionally assessed Bills of Costs. In the case of Philpott, the written judgement was not published, however the SCCO were able to share a few comments made by Master Haworth whilst delivering his judgement. Essentially, whereby time has been spent updating the Protected Party’s financial records or schedules of income and expenditure, this has been noted as an ‘office overhead’ in some instances.
During the delivery of his judgement, Master Haworth made the following comments inter alia:-
“It seems to me that the inputting of data into P’s ledger is not fee earning work. At most it is bookkeeping which, to my mind, is an overhead of a solicitor’s practice.
This work has to be distinguished from for example, reviewing or perusing the data to come to a decision as to what then needs to be done with a P’s funds. To my mind that may well amount to fee earning work for which the solicitors can charge separately at the appropriate rate.
I know that I have a number of further appeals on similar lines which may well result in a written judgment from me in due course. Nonetheless, it may be helpful for you to circulate this memo to the Costs Officers in the interest of consistency in the future.”
Resultantly, we recommend that this task is delegated appropriately to a Grade D fee earner or non-fee earner where possible.
If you have any queries in respect of the above, please do not hesitate to contact the Costs Team at COPCosts@clarionsolicitors.com