Cohen v Fine & Ors [2020] EWHC 3278 (Ch) – More positive news in relation to hourly rates

This case involved an appeal by the Claimant following costs being summarily assessed in the sum of £27,000.00.

The first item for consideration by Judge Hodge was whether the appeal should be allowed. Following consideration, Judge Hodge concluded that the decision made in the lower Court, and the “broadbrush” approach taken by the DJ, was wrong stating that “While Summary Assessment can be “broadbrush”, a Judge still has to consider the individual elements of the bill item by item” the Judge went on to say that “broadbrush” in this context meant there was no need for a Notice of Commencement, Points of dispute etc.

Rather than ordering a detailed assessment to be undertaken by a Regional Costs Judge, Judge Hodge undertook a further summary assessment and arrived at a total of £35,703.00.

However, the interesting comments came later when considering the appropriate hourly rates to apply to the claim. He considered the fact that hourly rates had not been adjusted since 2010 and went on to say that In my experience of sitting in the Business & Property Courts, both in the North-west and in the Rolls Building, the present Guideline Hourly Rates are considerably below the rates actually being charged by the solicitors who practise in those courts. Likewise, the Table of Counsel's Fees bears no relationship to the fees which the courts see being charged for counsel appearing in the Business & Property Courts. In my judgment, pending the outcome of the present review, the Guideline Hourly Rates should be the subject of, at least, an increase that takes due account of inflation. Using the Bank of England Inflation Calculator, it seems to me that an increase in the (Band One) figures for Manchester and Liverpool broadly in the order of 35% would be justified as a starting point”.

GradeRate
Grade A(£217) £295

 

Grade B(£192) £260

 

Grade C(£161) £220

 

Grade D(£118) £160

 

The 35% uplift on guideline Band One rates would lead to the following rates:

It should be highlighted that the Judgment was made subject to the indemnity principle and incidentally, in this case, the majority of lower rates applied as a result of the same.

However, this should not distract us from another positive case (for receiving parties) in relation to hourly rates. It again demonstrates that the Court is looking beyond what is contained within the 2010 guideline rates and is well aware of the time passed since they were last increased.

This leads us nicely into tomorrow’s final Costmas blog looking at predictions for the costing world in 2021!

The full Judgement can be found here.

If you have any questions regarding this summary case law please contact Karl Robson here

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