This article focuses on the main case law which impacts upon the costs within the Court of Protection.
Two or More Fee Earners at One Attendance – Disallowed in accordance with R –v- Legal Aid Board Ex Parte Bruce (1991) which stated: “Solicitors are not to be expected to carry knowledge of all the law in their heads… if the problem is outside the scope of their experience they will wish to discuss it with others who are more qualified… But knowledge of the law, however acquired or recalled, is their stock in trade… In so far as expense is involved in adding to this stock in trade, it is an overhead expense and not something that can be charged to the client”
Delegation – Master O’Hare stated that a Professional Deputy should delegate suitable tasks to colleagues on the basis that the delegation is reasonable and will save costs rather than increase them. However, Master O’Hare directed that the Deputy must be careful not to increase his/her claim for costs by duplicating work done by colleagues.
Jamie Walker – November 2002
Incoming Correspondence – Disallowed as the time spent on incoming correspondence was included within the time spent preparing the response. Master O’Hare applied the following provision for time spent perusing incoming correspondence: “Routine letter out and routine telephone calls will in general be allowed on a unit basis of 6 minutes each… The unit charge for letters out will include perusing and considering the relevant letters in and no separate charge should be made for incoming letters”
Leighanne Radcliffe – December 2004
Enclosure Letters - 6 minute claims for letters enclosing invoices were reduced to 3 minutes for payment of routine invoices. Costs Officer Sainthouse referred to Master O’Hare’s decision which had been made In the matter of Jamie Walker in that the time spent checking the invoice, arranging payment and preparing the appropriate letter/cheque was non-fee earner work.
Michael Ashton – July 2006
Guideline Hourly Rates – Master Haworth ruled that Court of Protection work should be allowed in accordance with the SCCO Guideline Hourly Rates. The bands within the SCCO Guideline Hourly Rates are defined as:
- A -Solicitors with over 4 years post qualification experience, including at least 8 years litigation experience;
- B -Solicitors and Legal Executives with over 4 years post qualification experience, including at least 4 years litigation experience;
- C -Other Solicitors and Legal Executives and Fee Earners of equivalent experience;
- D -Trainee Solicitors, Paralegals and Fee Earners of equivalent experience.
Provisions for the recovery of rates above the Guideline Hourly Rates were also made:
“Unqualified clerks who are fee earners of equivalent experience may be entitled to similar rates… Clerks without the equivalent experience will be treated as being in the bottom grade of fee earner… whether or not a fee earner has equivalent experience is ultimately a matter for the discretion of the Court”
Louise Smith & Others is the leading case in respect of Guideline Hourly Rates.
Yazid Yahiaoui – January 2014
“…where work is being carried out either as a team or by an individual that spans work that would normally be dealt with by a Grade B, C or D fee earner, a blended or enhanced rate may be appropriate…”
<p justify;"="">If you require further information in respect of Court of Protection costs or case law, please do not hesitate to contact Stephanie Kaye on 0113 336 3402
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