What are the delays at the SCCO?
By now, we are all aware of the SCCO delays. With the most recent notice from the SCCO stating “The Costs Officers are currently being assigned bills of costs for which supporting papers were received around the end of October 2022.”
It further goes onto say “whilst bills pre-dating the end of October 2022 are likely to have been assessed, they may not necessarily have reached the dispatch stage yet. The Admin Team are currently sending out assessed bills returned to them by the Costs Officers during the 4th week of August 2023.”
Later on in the notice, it refers to new e-filings. The notice states “e-filings that have been submitted, but not yet accepted or rejected, we are currently working on new bill filings submitted around the 4th week of June 2023 and certificates submitted during the 4th week of August 2022.”
The delays at the SCCO are yet to significantly drop but you can expect to wait 13 months for your bill to be assessed, 2 months for a filing to be accepted (or rejected) and 2 weeks for a FCC to be issued.
The SCCO have asked people not to chase them for an update where their query relates to a bill/filing within these time frames. Obviously any delays greater than stated above, we recommend getting in touch directly with the SCCO.
How can I increase my cash flow?
Given these significant delays a lot of firms are having to wait 12 months or more to bill their own clients for work done almost 2 years ago, which is not ideal.
Practice Direction Part 19B refers to fixed costs in the Court of Protection. It specifically outlines in relation to payment on account and states “Where professional deputies elect for detailed assessment of annual management charges, they may take payments on account for the first three quarters of the year, which are proportionate and reasonable taking into account the size of the estate and the functions they have performed. Interim quarterly bills must not exceed 25% of the estimated annual management charges – that is up to 75% for the whole year.
Interim bills of account must not be submitted to the SCCO. At the end of the annual management year, the deputy must submit their annual bill to the SCCO for detailed assessment and adjust the final total due to reflect payments on account already received.”
We would always encourage firms to take these interim payments throughout the year up to the 75% maximum.
In relation to applications you may take payment on account up to 75% of their estimated costs, reasonable and proportionate taking into account the size of the state. Any payments taken must be included in the first account to Public Guardian.
In addition to the interim payments, firms can also take fixed costs for certain work carried out throughout the management year.
In line with the Practice Direction, the revised fixed fees for the Court of Protection, effective from 1 December 2017 states:
|Fixed Fee (plus VAT)|
|Preparation of the Deputyship Report||£265.00|
|Preparation of the basic HMRC income tax return||£250.00|
|Preparation of the complex HMRC income tax return||£600.00|
How can you speed up the process further?
Given the delays, we recommend you are continuously reviewing their matters for any upcoming order anniversaries. This means that you are able to instruct your Costs Draftsman to prepare the bill quicker, which in turn will mean that your bill of costs is sent to the SCCO sooner.
In addition to this, before a bill is filed with the SCCO we recommend you ensure their e-bundle is in the correct format for the SCCO or ensure their paper file is sent to the SCCO as soon as it is accepted to ensure no further unnecessary delays.
With the introduction of the new E-bill in November 2022, we should start to see an improvement in the delays at the SCCO.
If you would like further assistance on any of the information outlined above, or have any general queries please get in touch at email@example.com. Alternatively, please check out our WordPress blog site where you can find all of the up to date information on Court of Protection costs.