28 October, 2020
In 2 recent cases the Guideline Hourly Rates used as the basis of assessment of opponents' costs in civil litigation, and set in 2010, have been scrutinised with judges accepting that they are not necessarily appropriate in all cases 10 years on. In Re PLK and others the High Court discussed the appropriate method of assessment of hourly rates in Court of Protection cases and concluded that whilst they had no power to review Guideline Hourly rates, they did have discretion to go above them in appropriate cases. The High Court said that in Court of Protection cases, that often involve complex work with high monetary value and difficult and time-consuming clients, then rates of up to 210% of the Guideline Hourly Rates would be prima facie reasonable.
And in Shulman v Kolomoisky the High Court allowed solicitors in Canary Wharf, with an E14 postcode which would attract Outer London rates, to claim higher rates, describing Guideline Hourly Rates as a 'broad approximation' and 'really the roughest of rough guides as to what might be allowed'.
At a time when Guideline Hourly Rates are being reviewed by the appropriately named Guideline Hourly Rates Costs Committee these are interesting decisions. The Committee is going to provide recommendations to the Civil Justice Council and the Deputy Head of Civil Justice once it has carried out its review and is currently calling for evidence of the rates being allowed by regional costs judges and the Senior Courts Costs Office judges. At the moment there is no indication of whether the rates will be increased, nor when they will provide their report, but the deadline for submission of evidence is not likely to close until later this year or early next.