It is commonly questioned about whether or not interest is payable on legal fees incurred by a professional Deputy in a Court of Protection case. Interest on unpaid legal costs is governed by the Judgments Act 1838 and Section 74 of the County Courts Act 1984. It is stated that the rate applicable which a receiving party can reasonably be charging interest at is 8% on any unpaid legal costs owed by the paying party. Interest will not run on any payment of costs made on account, therefore if interim payments have been taken, interest will not accrue on those sums.
In Thomas v Bunn , it was held that where a defendant is ordered to pay ‘damages to be assessed’, interest on the damages only ran from the date of the judgment or order assessing the damages payable and not from the date of the order establishing liability. As a result and applying that same logic, it’s widely accepted that interest will run in COP cases but only from the date of the Final Costs Certificate as this is the time that the amount payable is known. If the costs have not been assessed and no Final Costs Certificate has been made, interest cannot accrue.
Practically, it is an additional statutory entitlement so is in addition to the invoices already rendered, but not vatable. The party must be notified that interest is accruing.
Many firms take the view that it is not appropriate to charge interest on legal fees in COP cases where still acting as Deputy, as it would not be deemed in P’s best interests. That said, there are circumstances whereby the Deputy may expect not to receive payment for some time and therefore charging interest may be necessary, for example, pending the sale of a property to release cash assets. It is for the Deputy and the Deputy’s firm to decide whether to charge interest on the legal fees.
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