At our Court of Protection Masterclass yesterday, Master James spoke insightfully about the service of Court of Protection Bills of Costs on interested parties. She confirmed:
“Run-of-the-mill Assessments generally relate to general management charges appointment of Deputies etc. Since the advent of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, it is increasingly common for family members to challenge decisions such as the appointment of a Deputy, or the registration of an Enduring Power of Attorney.
The Court hearing these applications has the usual armoury of costs orders at its disposal and in a number of cases it may make a costs order against the interested party or Applicant. In other cases, it will simply order the Deputy’s costs to be paid from the estate of P.
Other situations arise where P dies before a Deputy’s bill for general management charges or other matters has been assessed. In all these situations, often when the bill is lodged, it is clear that there are objections from family members, unsuccessful applicants to the Court, or beneficiaries under the will or intestacy of P, to the costs that are claimed.”
It’s important to note that Master James said in her notes “in all these situations, the Deputy or party seeking payment must make these objections clear when lodging their bills for Assessment. In these circumstances, the bills are usually referred to a Master for a Direction to be made pursuant to CPR Rule 47.19A (3) – see link to Part 47 at page 3 above:
“The Court may direct that the persons seeking Assessment may serve a copy of the request on any person who has a financial interest in the outcome of the Assessment”.
What is or is not a “financial interest” is explained in CPD Part 47 paragraph 18.2; here is a link to the Practice Direction:
She proceeded to confirm, “there have been cases proceeding before Costs Officers and/or a Master where it is not apparent that there is an interested party with the result that a Final Costs Certificate (FCC) may be issued without the full knowledge of who the relevant parties are.
In some cases, the FCC has subsequently had to be rescinded and the process of Detailed Assessment restarted at considerable cost either to the estate of P, Solicitors or Deputies.”
We recommend that any interested parties are highlighted for the SCCO’s attention in your letter to the SCCO, enclosing your bill of costs.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the COP Costs Team at Clarion, COPCosts@clarionsolicitors.com or call 0113 336 3402.