Hourly Rates – always a point of interest, and more so given the activity in the COP and Business & Property Courts in the latter part of last year. PLK & Ors in the COP confirmed a 20% uplift would be a ‘reasonable’ starting point for GHR whilst Cohen went even further to suggest a starting point of 30% on the 2010 GHR. Caution must be practiced however as both cases of course are subject to the hotly awaited outcome of the current Judicial Review Committee’s findings on hourly rates. The consultation paper for public review (to 31 March 2021) has now been published and can be viewed here on the CJC website. R Costings was delighted to be named as one of the costs firms assisting with the review using data collected over a  period of time and eagerly await the outcome of the review. Early recommendations seem to support increases across the board to all grades of fee earners.

Don’t forget though – whatever the outcome, the Guideline Hourly Rates remain just that, and there is always scope to seek increases where warranted with consideration to CPR 44 and the “7 pillars”.

 

Default Costs Certificate – so as a costs firm, we always get excited when we can advise our client that we can make a DCC in absence of a paying party complying with CPR and providing eagerly awaited POR. What often follows however is a paying party’s routine arguments for missing deadlines; followed by a prompt set of replies and an application to set aside. In one of the final cases of 2020, Master Leonard refused such application (even with Covid related justifications being provided) highlighting that an application shouldn’t merely be an administrative formality. The case of Maten v London Britannia Hotel Ltd provided some well received guidance and advice for such instances re-affirming the importance of swift justice and application of the CPR.

 

Part 36 0ffers – beware when rejecting Part 36 offers; there may be significant ramifications if you don’t better it down the line. But more importantly, ensure when you make a Part 36 offer, it’s a genuine attempt to reach settlement and if rejected or the offeror is later awarded a sum at least as advantageous, the rewards are bountiful. The genuine efforts made by an offeror were considered in the case of Telefonica UK Ltd v The Office of Communications and you can read more about it in the article on page xx

 

COP & Net Assets – in October Penntrust Ltd v West Berkshire District Council addressed the issue of the value of a protected parties assets and the inclusion of property in net assets. HHJ Hilder determined that property is included in net assets allowing the panel deputy to seek SCCO assessment of costs sought. More on this case can be viewed on R Costings website at www.rcostings.co.uk

 

CPR amendments (122nd update) – the latter part of 2020 brought with it updates for cost budgeting, with specific guidelines now provided for in the instance of seeking revisions to approved/agreed budgets. We were very pleased to hear this and also see the template Precedent T which must now be used for any anticipated deviation sought mirroring R Costings very own template used for such circumstances prior to the updates. You can read more about that on our website www.rcostings.co.uk

Proportionality – always a favourite in the costs industry and in November 2020 the Civil Justice Council made recommendations for an amendment to CPR 44.3(5) to include additional costs arising where a case has involved vulnerable parties and witnesses. The detailed report can be accessed on the CJC’s website.

Kate Benn – Business & Litigation Manager

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