Open Meeting of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee – Costs Update

The Civil Procedure Rules Committee held their annual open meeting on 15th May 2020. Given the present circumstances, the meeting was successfully held via Skype.

The previous two meetings covered several costs issues including the establishment of a sub-committee to make recommendations in respect of guideline hourly rates which have not been updated in the last 10 years. The committee is due to make recommendations by the end of this year with an update to the rates to take place thereafter.

The April minutes, which have just been released, confirm a that a sub-committee has also been established to consider costs rates other than guideline hourly rates.

The following costs matters were discussed at the open meeting in May, minutes of which will likely be published in June:

Vulnerable Parties – The sub-committee sought guidance on four points; an amendment to the over-riding objective to cover vulnerable parties, an accompanying PD, an addition to CPR44.3(5) regarding proportionality to specifically include vulnerable parties, and whether to approach the MOJ in respect of amending fixed, scale and capped costs for cases involving vulnerable parties. The committee broadly agreed with the proposals with some caution regarding the overriding objective.

CPR 45.18 – The committee agreed that the deletion of the upper limit of £25,000.00 from tables 6 and 6A would be recommended.

Qader v Esure– Issues had been raised following the amendments to CPR 45 Section IIIA concerning the effect on parties’ settlement tactics in matters likely to be  allocated to the multitrack due to the difference in the level of costs recoverable pre and post allocation. The committee discussed the matter and concluded that no action should be taken.    

QOCS  / Ho v Adelekun – The issue of off-setting Defendant’s costs against Claimant’s costs where damages are insufficient has been referred to the costs sub-committee. The committee will keep a watching brief on the appeal in Ho and consider revision to CPR 44.14 thereafter.

Part 36 acceptance in pre-action matters – Where a Part 36 offer is accepted pre-action there is no deemed costs order (CPR  44.9(2)).  The costs sub-committee will consider whether there is a need to amend CPR 46.14 regarding costs only proceedings to be explicit in respect of Part 36 acceptance on pre-action matters.

Helen Spalding is an Associate in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion. You can contact her at helen.spalding@clarionsolicitors.com or on 0113 288 5639.

What are classed as ‘assets’ in COP cases?

Practice Direction 19B stipulates that fixed costs must be used in the event the Protected Party (P) does not have over £16,000 of assets on the anniversary date. The pertinent issue faced by many Deputies is what is included in the classification of ‘assets’.

When considering whether the P’s matter is what is widely known as a ‘hardship case’, you must consider whether P initially has cash or other liquid assets which total £16,000. If not, does P own a property? If P owns a property in which he/she or a dependent resides, this will not be counted towards the total asset value for this purpose. However, if it is a vacant or rental property, the value of the property can be included in calculating the total assets.

In the event that there is ligation ongoing in which the liability has been admitted and the funds are anticipated, or there is an ongoing property sale, income or inheritance in which funds will be received from, these may be classed as pending assets and you may not be limited to the fixed cost. We recommend checking the particular scenario with the Office of the Public Guardian beforehand.

Section 9 states “where the net assets of P are below £16,000, the professional deputy for property and affairs may take an annual management fee not exceeding 4.5% of P’s net assets on the anniversary of the court order appointing the professional as deputy.” You are not entitled to take interim payments whereby the assets fall below £16,000.

You must charge in line with the client asset amount on the anniversary date of the court order. If the assets are above £16,000 on the anniversary date then the 4.5% rule does not apply.

If the assets are above £16,000, deputies should know that Section 6 of PD19B states that “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 on account must not be submitted to the Senior Courts Costs Office. At the end of the annual management year, the deputy must submit their annual bill to the Senior Courts Costs Office for detailed assessment and adjust the final total due to reflect payments on account already received.”

To bring this into context for when your bill of costs is being prepared, the SCCO are interested in the value of the assets of the P to enable accurate consideration for the proportionality of the bill. If your client owns any properties, vehicles, rental properties or businesses providing an income then it is appropriate for this to be highlighted within the narrative of your bill of costs. In addition, the details of the net assets value including the value of any shares and general investments held should be provided. It has been evidenced in the assessed bills returned from the SCCO that this information assists in the Cost Officer providing a just and reasonable assessment.

If you are unsure of the position in relation to P’s net assets and what should or should not be included, we recommend contacting the OPG for guidance.

However, you should have any further queries, or simply wish to discuss any costs queries you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact bridie.sanderson@clarionsolicitors.com.

Lockdown Lowdown – Francesca Gardner

This blog forms part of a series of weekly interviews with several professionals during lockdown. It aims to inform Deputies and their teams about how each organisation within the field of Court of Protection has adapted to Covid-19 and what they should be aware of. Our third participant for Lockdown Lowdown is Francesca Gardner from Kings Chambers, who has chosen a hectic time to return from maternity leave!

How has the Court of Protection adapted to lockdown?

The COP has adapted extremely well, and at speed to the pandemic. The Vice President has been instrumental in ensuring that the court continues to function. Hayden J has released a number of helpful guidance documents. The reality is that there will be some cases that will be delayed but there is a clear and concerted effort from the court’s to ensure that urgent cases are being properly determined. For example, within days of the lockdown measures being announced by the government, the COP heard a Serious Medical Treatment case (over a number of days) via Zoom.

I know of and am involved in many cases that are being and are scheduled to be heard over the coming weeks.

What impact do you think this will have on professional Deputies?

I am optimistic that there will not be a significant impact upon deputies, save for the challenges in maintaining contact with P and any delays that may be faced as regards court proceedings. HMCTS has issued its ‘family business priorities’ for April 2020 setting out what work must be done, what work will be done and what work HMCTS will do its best to do. Property and Affairs work falls under the work that court ‘will do it’s best to do’, whilst this may be frustrating to deputies I am aware of several P&A cases being heard both in the regions and in London so whilst there may be delays I would hope that deputies will still have proper access to the court’s should they need it on behalf of P.

Have you learnt anything so far from the pandemic?

The importance of slowing down, as lawyers we work at 100mph and I hope that lockdown has forced us to re-evaluate a little and find a better balance going forward. I am thinking ‘pigs might fly’ as I write this.

Have there been any reoccurring issues that Deputies should be aware of?

The main issue in my view and that, which I am aware of, is contact with P and ensuring that communication between P and the deputy continues. It is important that deputies think creatively during the pandemic to ensure that they (and others) can maintain contact with P. For example and where possible the purchase of an iPad or a request to the staff at the care home and/or support staff to support P to use Skype may be of real benefit. In BP v Surrey County Council 2020 EWCOP 17, the Vice President of the Court of Protection, Hayden J, reiterated the importance of P maintaining contact with others and how this should be approached based on the specific needs of the person. For example, telephone contact would not be appropriate where the person is deaf, but Skype maybe and they should be supported to use that facility.

Do you think there will be any reoccurring issues that Protected Party’s face as a result of this?

I would like to think not but I think delay will be inevitable in some cases, particularly cases that are none urgent in nature.

What do you think Deputies should be thinking about?

Whilst it may be a very difficult time, deputies must remember that their roles and responsibilities remain the same throughout the pandemic, that includes in circumstances where the deputy may be self-isolating in line with the government guidelines. The Office of Public Guardian has provided some guidance for deputies during the pandemic, within the guidance it states:  ‘If you are self- isolating or shielding, you must continue to make decisions for P. You cannot ask anyone else to make those decisions for you.’ However, attorneys and deputies can make a decision and ask someone else to carry it out. The guidance reminds deputies that they do not have to step down in their role simply because they are unable to visit the person.

How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

My little boy keeps me very busy, but returning to work has also kept me busy. I try to exercise alone as regularly as I can. Running has always been my ‘go to’ for exercise and its great for clearing your head, particularly with all that is going on at the moment.

What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?

Spending time with family and my little boy, it has been hard that no one has been able to see him so I am very much looking forward to that!

Clarion would like to thank Francesca for taking part in Lockdown Lowdown and for her helpful insight. Coming up in the series, we will be hearing from Ria Baxendale from the OPG. If you would like to suggest another interviewee for Lockdown Lowdown, please contact Stephanie Kaye at stephanie.kaye@clarionsolicitors.com or call 0113 336 3402.

Lockdown Lowdown- Master Haworth

This blog forms part of a series of weekly interviews with several professionals during lockdown. It aims to inform Deputies and their teams about how each organisation within the field of Court of Protection has adapted to Covid-19. Our second participant for Lockdown Lowdown is Master Peter Haworth from the Senior Courts Costs Office.

  • How has the SCCO adapted to lockdown?

I originally thought we wouldn’t cope very well at all, and thought we would lock up shop at the SCCO, but that hasn’t happened. It’s not just skeleton staff, but staff working from home and a team in the office on a very detailed rota. We have a dedicated COP team of at least 5 people in today and 6 people in tomorrow, so we are finding ways to continue whilst respecting social distancing. We have managed to obtain laptops which have been given to Costs Officers so, in addition to the team in the office, Costs Officers are dealing with work at home. We have 8 Costs Officers and all 8 of them are working, be it remotely or from the office and the people in the high risk category are having work delivered to them as opposed to collecting it themselves. The team really have worked hard to adapt and I’m tremendously proud of them. The judiciary are also getting on surprisingly well in lockdown. We’ve had a number of Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls which have been very successful, and it seems that the judiciary has moved on 50 years in 2 weeks. I don’t think we will ever go back to ‘normal’ and I suspect that, going forward, we will continue to work in this way wherever it is appropriate to do so. The Senior Costs Judge doesn’t want things to grind to a halt so, wherever possible, we are dealing with things via Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams. I’ve had 2 full-day hearings for two substantial costs matters and it works well. I’m fixing more Microsoft Teams meeting where I hope to take live evidence, which is something that I would not have thought possible. With COP work, one of the benefits of the e-filing system that was introduced in January is that I can access this sitting at home, pick up cases and deal with them without too much difficulty. Where I need papers, the majority are being sent to me via the local County Court using DX and I pick them up from there. Also, in COP, I have had a couple of Costs Officers who have said that provisional assessments have not been accepted, and the solicitors have requested an oral hearing, so I’ve been able to simply access the file using the e-file system and list them without delay. The Costs Masters meet virtually on a Friday morning to discuss work loads too, which is useful. We’ve had one Master off ill, but others have picked up the work in his absence. I thought it might be a prolonged holiday for us all but that’s not happened!

  • What impact do you think this will have on turnaround?

You won’t believe this but, whilst I’ve parroted on, I’ve had an email with an update so I have the exact figures, hot off the press for you! As of the 27th of April 2020, straight from the horse’s mouth, we have 656 cases in the office up to 7 weeks old, awaiting assessment. We have a further 257 waiting for supporting papers from the solicitors which have been e-filed and accepted and a further 464 in the e-filing queue waiting to be processed by the e-filing team. Essentially, we have a backlog of 1,200 cases. I’m not holding anything back from you, so hopefully you can appreciate the full picture. We have one Costs Officer who has been ill and there are 10 cases awaiting collection from them. In addition, we have 195 Final Costs Certificates waiting to be authorised, which are being prioritised at the moment above the assessments. We are in a position to deal with things at home, but the bottleneck is the admin team processing the e-filing. We are working with a 50% admin team in the office due to social distancing measures, so that is where the difficulty lies in the administration of all of those cases. I would hope that, once the rules are relaxed, we will have a full team in the office again. We have seen turnaround a lot worse than this, but I appreciate even more so as a former solicitor that cash flow is king, and I’m the first to understand that. If there is anything we can do to push this through, we will. E-filing proved to be a lot more complicated than anticipated and it has slowed things down, for which I sincerely apologise on behalf of the office.

  • Has the SCCO learnt anything so far from the pandemic?

We can work virtually and electronically, rather than with high chairs and quill pens! We will have to put it all together when we get back to normality and find a new way of working. I think that the lockdown experience will provide more benefits in the years to come and, to my mind, we will move forward a lot quicker now. The majority of firms don’t work with paper files anymore so, as night follows day, it must mean electronic files move up the queue for COP, but I don’t know what the timescales are for that. We have trialled this and the Costs Officers were happy to access the solicitors’ system to carry out the assessment but, for this to be successful, there will have to be protocols and security measures. Provided we can meet those, it will move forward. There is also the electronic bill which you know about (Stephanie Kaye and Andrew McAulay are part of the committee preparing a COP electronic bill). COP will not need the same level of complexity as the current electronic bill for inter partes work, so I would hope to see an electronic bill in motion by the end of this year, or early next year and the the rest will follow. So many questions will be up for grabs and only time will tell, but I’m sure the real impact will be known when we get back. It will push us out of the Victorian times and move us into the 21st century.

  • Have there been any regular issues with e-filing that Deputies should be aware of?

The hiccups have been loading it all up in the first place. With no electronic bill, it’s having to be scanned into the system and a paper copy prepared for assessment, then scanned back out to the solicitor. All the extra admin had meant that the bottleneck was even worse. Although the bill will have to be scanned to obtain a copy, the Costs Officers are sending a paper copy back to the solicitor after assessment and, from that point in time, the solicitor can electronically obtain the Final Costs Certificate. I hope this will solve some of the issues but this will be an ongoing problem, until the introduction of the electronic bill. From my own experience, the electronic bill is so much easier and it will speed up the process considerably in COP cases.

  • Is the SCCO still available by telephone?

Yes, they are answering the phone. You might have to wait a little bit longer due to fewer people in the office, but there are Cost Officers and Clerks available. If they can’t answer the query, they will email the Master who might email the representatives directly, which is speeding things up. Providing they are accredited legal representatives and not parties, I am more than happy to work in this way, as are my colleagues.

  • We’ve already touched on this, but do you think there will be a move to electronic files of papers for assessment in the future?

Yes. This is not in the public domain, but all I can say is that there is some movement towards a sort of ‘bundle bank’, which would mean that the SCCO is able to access an electronic bundle to carry out an assessment, rather than interrogating the solicitor’s system, which has been trialled already. That’s something that is being considered, and I’m sure lockdown will accelerate moves to electronic working.

  • The MOJ invited the panel of professionals last year to comment on several areas, including consistency of reductions on assessments. Is it likely that the SCCO will update its guidance for Costs Officers and professional Deputies to help with more consistent assessments?

We will wait and see what the responses are from the MOJ on that point. We can then take a fresh look at the guide knowing the full picture. Obviously, any move to the electronic bill or electronic files of papers will mean that the guide is updated too. It will be a work in progress.

  • What is the plan for your retirement?

I’ve done COP work in practice for many years. In 2006, I joined the SCCO and I couldn’t have been handed this work any quicker. I’ve worked almost exclusively from 2006 until last year or the year before on COP. Master James and Master Whalan will deal with COP after I retire. I think the senior judges would like all costs judges to deal with every aspect but in my mind, COP is specialist and you have to know what you’re doing, so I think it’s best kept with 2 or 3 judges. As for my retirement, I had planned to go on the 30th of September but in light of the current situation, I may find myself here until Christmas. The plan is to do more of what I enjoy, including sailing and hot air ballooning. A lot of my ballooning is abroad so I suspect even after lockdown, there will be difficulties with this. I might have to stay in the UK, although it’s tremendously difficult to fly a balloon in British weather! In 2021, I plan to take part in a balloon event across the English channel. I’ve done it once and I’d like to do it again – it’s much quicker than the ferry!

  • How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

I felt that staying in a flat in London wouldn’t be ideal so I’ve come back up north. I’ve spent more time with Mrs Haworth than I have in the last 15 years! The north is a pretty part of the world so, when I haven’t been working, I’ve been out walking or doing things in the garden, albeit my work in the garden mainly involves supervising Mrs Haworth!

  • What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?

Meeting friends and going to the pub!!

Clarion would like to thank Master Haworth for taking part in Lockdown Lowdown. He and the SCCO continue to work extremely hard to service Court of Protection Costs work during this time. Coming up in the series, we will be hearing from Francesca Gardner from Kings Chambers and Ria Baxendale from the OPG. If you would like to suggest another interviewee for Lockdown Lowdown, please contact Stephanie Kaye at stephanie.kaye@clarionsolicitors.com or call 0113 336 3402.

 

 

Detailed guidance from Master Gordon-Saker on recoverable costs between the parties in Fuseon Ltd, R

The recent judgment in Fuseon Ltd, R provides a reminder of a number of established principles in respect of recoverability of various heads of costs between the parties.

The costs claim arose from a private prosecution by Fuseon Ltd, a Lancashire based letting agency, against a Director of the business who had committed fraud and theft of over £100,000 relating to tenancy deposits, personal expenses and false invoices. The police were unable to investigate and therefore the company brought a private prosecution using Central London firm, Edmonds Marshall McMahon Limited, having failed to find a local firm to take the case. The Director was ultimately convicted and an order was made for a payment of costs to the prosecution out of central funds including costs of the investigation. 

Costs were submitted in the sum of £427,909.00 to the Criminal Cases Unit of the Legal Aid Agency and were initially determined by the case manager in the sum of £180,000.00. The key decisions being a reduction from London hourly rates to Preston guidelines, a reduction in travel time to what would have been reasonable for a local firm, removal of duplication between fee earners, non-fee earner work, and a Singh reduction for proportionality.

Fuseon requested a redetermination and costs were increased to £240,000.00, a subsequent appeal was then dismissed by Master Rowley. In August 2019 Fuseon commenced judicial review proceedings and the decision of Master Rowley was quashed. It was directed that the assessment of the Claimant’s costs be remitted to the Senior Costs Master for further directions. The matter came before Master Gordon-Saker who re-heard the appeal from the determination of the case manager. This was dealt with on the papers at the Claimant’s request.

Hourly rates – At the initial assessment, it was not accepted that there was no choice but to instruct a central London firm. Rates for a local firm were therefore applied based on guideline rates for Preston. Master Gordon-Saker, guided by the comments of Lane J. in the judicial review judgment, found the use of a Central London firm to be reasonable on the facts. The Claimant had carried out suitable research and contacted firms but could not find anyone offering private prosecutions for fraud. It was reasonable to use London solicitors due to the specialism required. The hourly rates claimed were therefore reviewed against the guidelines for central London. The rates were allowed save for reductions to the Grade C and D handlers. It is worth noting that Master Gordon-Saker commented at paragraph 30 that ‘the guideline rates are of course just that. They are fairly blunt instruments designed to assist judges in the summary assessment of costs. The passage of time since 2010 means that they tend now to be used as a starting position rather than as carved in stone.’

Travel time – Additional travel was allowed in light of the permitted use of London Solicitors, however, travel to attend the client was disallowed as a client is generally expected to travel to attend their solicitor. 

Inter-fee earner discussions / duplication – Detailed guidance was provided in respect of what is and is not recoverable in this regard in paragraphs 42 through 44. Master Gordon-Saker confirmed that ‘reasonable time spent in inter-fee earner discussions is properly allowable. It is difficult to delegate tasks to junior fee earners without instructing them what to do and the reasonable time of the delegator and delegate is usually now considered to be recoverable. […] On the other hand, two fee earners attending on a witness or the client will rarely be reasonable, unless there is a specific reason. Lawyers should be reasonably adept, like most people, at speaking or listening and writing at the same time. For similar reasons I cannot see that more than one fee earner attending trial, together with Counsel, was reasonably required.’ For example, additional time was allowed for the Partner reviewing documents such as witness statements prepared by others but time spent for an additional fee earner to prepare for attendance at the trial was removed.

Non-fee earner work – Researching social media, contacting witnesses about the trial and preparing bundles were allowed as work normally carried out by fee earners. Items that were disallowed included photocopying (described in the bill as ‘collating extra copies’ and ‘preparing copies’), printing, posting, booking flights, and elements of the bundle preparation such as scanning.

Proportionality – Following from the judicial review judgment, it was found that the initial use of the CPS as a comparator to find the costs disproportionate was not legitimate. The Claimant had tried his best to get the police to take the case and his decision to institute the private prosecution was a last resort. The hours spent by each fee earner were considered and reductions were made to the principal handler and the Grade D assistants.

Points to take away

  • Use of a London firm may be reasonable for a particular specialism and if the client has made such enquiries as can reasonably be expected of a person in their position.
  • Travel to attend the client is not generally recoverable, I would suggest that this would turn on the facts and would be recoverable if there was a particular reason such as incapacity or the need for a site inspection.
  • Multiple fee earners attending meetings and hearings will be vulnerable at assessment. The context of the meeting should be considered.
  • Inter fee earner discussions are recoverable where it is necessary for delegation purposes. Again, consider the context of the meeting.
  • Care should be taken when describing tasks associated with preparing bundles to show legitimate fee earning work rather than scanning and copying.

Helen Spalding is an Associate in the Costs and Litigation Funding Department at Clarion Solicitors. You can contact her at helen.spalding@clarionsolicitors.com or on 0113 288 5639.

Lockdown Lowdown – Clare King

This blog forms part of a series of weekly interviews with several professionals during lockdown. It is aimed to inform Deputies and their teams about how each organisation within the field of Court of Protection has adapted to Covid-19. Our first willing participant for Lockdown Lowdown is Clarion’s very own Clare King. Clare is a Legal Director at Clarion Solicitors and leads our Court of Protection Team.

  • How have you had to adapt to work during lockdown?

We have had to find ways of supporting our clients in place of seeing them in person. Care providers have generally been brilliant, with several companies accepting bank transfers from us on behalf of clients so that they can draw out cash and deliver it to clients to pay for shopping and other services. We have also had to be creative with processes such as mental capacity assessments and preparation of applications, which mercifully can be signed electronically for now, allowing some applications to still be lodged.

  • What impact do you think this will have on professional Deputies?

A lot of our day to day work has ground to a halt as the COP is only dealing with urgent cases; Adult Social Care are operating a vastly reduced service; neither we nor other professionals such as case managers can actually visit clients, and lots of supporting services have stopped – community groups, gardening and property maintenance etc. We are just trying to ensure that our clients are safe and have food, accommodation and basic care services. That is all we can do. On the plus side, care homes have been forced to accept bank transfers for pocket money for residents so hopefully when this is all over, that will remain and negate the need for lawyers to go out just to drop cash to care homes, which we can’t generally recover the cost of!

  • Have you learnt anything so far from the pandemic?

People are incredibly generous with their time and resources to ensure that people with care and support needs are safe during the pandemic. Also, people are suffering a great deal with distress over not being able to visit loved ones in care homes which has been very sad to witness; it has reinforced to me how loved people with dementia are, despite all the changes (and challenges) that the disease can bring.

  • Have there been any reoccurring issues that your team has faced?

Very sadly we have lost two clients in one weekend from the COVID-19 virus and proper funerals cannot be held. I do not imagine that they will be the last so I think we will see this again and again. This virus has got a great deal to answer for.

  • Have you and the team managed to get into a routine?

Yes – we have all found ways to continue to work with our clients around the demands of working from home with families! Members of our team are working really hard to continue to support clients including some very early mornings and some very late nights when small children are in bed!

  • Have you experienced any difficulties with the Court?

Quite to opposite – Lynsey Harrison had a day long hearing in the Court of Protection using Skype for Business which was brilliant. They have had to prioritise certain cases but that is wholly understandable.

  • How have you been managing your clients?

Telephone calls and more telephone calls! Plus heavy reliance on the superhero home care workers and care home workers. NHS frontline staff are heroes but so are the people who are quietly continuing to care for some of the most vulnerable people in our society during this crisis.

  • Have you come across any useful forums/websites to assist professional deputies?

The PDF have been holding weekly meetings that I haven’t actually been able to attend yet due to pressure of work but the option is there and it is appreciated. Also, Practical Law have done a great guidance note that pulls together all the resources so together with the very regular guidance issued by HMCTS there is ample support for professionals out there.

  • How have you been keeping busy during lockdown?

How did I have time to come to the office?! Between work, family, jobs in the house and garden, Zoom calls with family, friends and colleagues, and the emergency community network I have helped to set up, there isn’t any time! My social life (albeit on a screen) has never been so busy!!

  • What are you most looking forward to after lockdown?

Racing down south to have a massive actual hug, as opposed to a virtual one, with my mum, dad and sister and then seeing my brother as soon as flights to Spain are reinstated as I miss them desperately. On the plus side, we are all safe and well so far.

Clare King and her team continue to work remotely to support their clients. If anyone has any questions for Clare, please contact her at clare.king@clarionsolicitors.com

Coming up in the series, we will be hearing from Francesca Gardner from Kings Chambers, Master Haworth from the SCCO and Ria Baxendale from the OPG. If you would like to suggest another interviewee for Lockdown Lowdown, please contact Stephanie Kaye at stephanie.kaye@clarionsolicitors.com or call 0113 3363402.

 

 

COVID-19 – the practical impact on professional Deputies and the SCCO

During these uncertain times, communication is key. Clarion are in regular communication with the Senior Courts Costs Office to understand and share how they will be adapting to continue to service CoP cases.

Firstly, electronic signatures will be accepted. The SCCO still require the hard copy files of papers to undertake the assessment, however, they have extended the timescale for professionals to send the papers following e-filing from 5 days to 28 days, which will be a great help.

It will come as no surprise that the assessment turnaround will be delayed further by these challenges. The SCCO are working with a virtual costs office with cases being dealt with remotely wherever possible.

To help struggling firms, there is a move in the CoP to increase the interim payment to 85% for a full year’s general management charges. This will mean a change to Practice Direction 19B, which is under review. Further information about this will be shared as soon as possible.

Clarion are fully equipped during this time to continue working with professional Deputies to have their bills of costs drafted for assessment. If you have any queries, please contact Stephanie Kaye at Stephanie.kaye@clarionsolicitors.com or call 0113 3363402.