Yesterday, the Civil Justice Council publishes their costs consultation responses and recommendations: https://www.judiciary.uk/civil-justice-council-costs-review-final-report/
Four main areas were considered; costs budgeting, guideline hourly rates, pre-action and digitisation and consequences of the extension of Fixed Recoverable Costs, with guideline hourly rates being the main area that had a potential to impact Court of Protection costs.
With respect to Guideline Hourly Rates, the majority of respondents found that the Guideline Hourly Rates had a useful role both as a starting point for summary and detailed assessment and indicate to the market generally the rates that would be considered reasonable by the Courts.
Almost all respondents believed that the Guideline Hourly Rates should be frequently updated as to ensure they serve their commercial purpose. However, views were mixed as to the frequency of which they were updated.
Abandoning the Guideline Hourly Rates was considered, however this was largely disagreed with by the respondents, with an argument that it would lead to uncertainty and cause difficulties for judges.
Various changes were considered, particularly as many respondents applying Guideline Hourly Rates outside of London noted that these were set considerably lower than the London hourly rates. A strong view was set that guideline hourly rates for London and elsewhere should not be different. Another suggestion was that the bands should reflect the complexity of the work as opposed to the location where the work was carried out.
It was recommended that the Guideline Hourly Rates be retained and in the short term, measures should be taken to create a new band for complex, high value and commercial work regardless of the location where the work was carried out. Also recommended was that Counsel’s fees should be assessed by reference to a guideline hourly rate. Further, when considering a departure from the Guideline Hourly Rates, the test being applied should be clearly stated.
Longer term recommendations included retaining the rates for the next five years, with a view to carrying out a Detailed Review at the end of the five years. Also recommended was a working group to ensure a satisfactory methodology can be identified and put in practice. Index linking was recommended to be carried out annually, in order to remove the need to carry out a form of detailed review on a regular basis. This will reflect the position of the market.
Overall, the immediate impact of the review is minimal to Court of Protection costs, however the Civil Justice Council will now consider how these recommendations are taken forward.
If you have any questions, please contact Laura Gillin at Laura.Gillin@clarionsolicitors.com