The Master of The Rolls announces its decision on Guideline Hourly Rates
The Master of The Rolls has unfortunately announced that existing Guideline Rates will remain in force for the foreseeable future. However, his recent announcement made on 17 April 2015 does at least acknowledge that the Guideline rates apply primarily to Summary Assessments. Commenting on the hourly rates, the Rt Hon Lord Dyson noted:
“…….They remain an integral part of the process of judges making summary assessments of costs in proceedings. They also form a part, even if only a starting reference point, in the preparation of detailed assessments. They also provide a yardstick for comparison purposes in costs budgeting……”.
This is very disappointing news, given that the Guideline hourly rates have not increased since 2010. However, there is always scope to seek above Guideline hourly rates, even on Summary Assessment, for cases that merit higher rates, provided of course the higher hourly rate is set out in the retainer. When seeking to justify higher than Guideline rates, attention should be given to the guidance at CPR 44.4 (factors to be taken into account in deciding the amount of costs), which includes: –
- Conduct of the parties
- Amount of money or property involved
- Importance of the matter to all the parties
- Particular complexity of the matter, or the difficulty or novelty of questions raised
- Skill, effort, specialised knowledge and responsibility involved
- Time spent on the case
- Particular circumstances in which work was carried out
It is of particular importance that every effort is made to justify hourly rates at the Costs Budgeting/Costs Management stage of proceedings, as once a Budget has been approved it will only be in rare cases, if at all, that a higher hourly rate would later be allowed on assessment.
There is always scope however to file and serve a revised budget, if for example there are significant changes in the litigation and a higher hourly rate is deemed appropriate.
We are always happy to advise on any costs or budgeting issues.