Final report on guideline hourly rates published – what is the impact on Court of Protection practitioners?

On Friday, the Civil Justice Council published their final report on guideline hourly rates (GHR).

Key recommendations made within the final report include:

  • That the Guideline Hourly Rates proposed in the Interim Report should be implemented in full
  • That National Band 3 should be abolished
  • That the counties of Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex and Surrey should become National Band 1 areas
  • That existing National Band 1 counties and other identified Band 1 centres will remain within Band 1
  • That all other areas will fall or remain within National Band 2

In respect of Court of Protection costs specifically, the report quotes Master Whalan in the decision of PLK & Others, where he concluded that ‘ultimately I am not satisfied that the evidence supports Mr Wilcock’s contention that COP firms have experienced a significant increase in hard and soft overheads’. It was also noted that ‘in general, however, COP assessments can be conducted by Costs Officers utilising the GHR as the reasonable hourly rate. The issue as to the appropriate status or grade of fee earner for the work in question will always be a matter for discretion of Costs Officers and/or Costs Judges’. When considering the PLK rates, the decision was made that ‘the GHR rates (if approved) are the rates to be used, not the PLK rates’.

The impact of this for Court of Protection practitioners is that the rates stated in the PLK and Others judgment dated 30 September 2020, as set out below, will no longer apply to costs to be assessed by the SCCO, and that the new GHR, if approved, will instead be applicable.

What are the proposed guideline rates, and how do these compare to the PLK rates?

PLK Rates

 Grade AGrade BGrade CGrade D
London 1£490£335£271£165
London 2£380£290£235£151
London 3£275-£320£206-£275£198£145
National 1£260£230£193£142
National 2£241£212£175£133

Proposed GHR

 Grade AGrade BGrade CGrade D
London 1£512£348£270£186
London 2£373£289£244£139
London 3£282£232 £185£129
National 1£261£218£178£126
National 2£255£218£177 £126

One key observation is that the proposed rates for National Band 1 are lower than the PLK Rates, for Grade B, Grade C and Grade D fee earners.

The overall position from the final report is that there was no compelling evidence found that additional attention should be given to Court of Protection work, and as such that said work should be subject to the same rates, the new GHR, if approved, as other areas.

You can access the full final report here: Civil Justice Council publishes final report on guideline hourly rates | Courts and Tribunals Judiciary

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