Hourly Rates – it’s the Litigation not the Litigator!

In the matter of Brake & Others -v- Guy & Others -v- James Hay Pension Trust (Third Party) [2022] EWHC 1911 (Ch) we again have had another case which considers the appropriate hourly rate to apply to the case.

The Background to the case is that HHJ Matthews (sitting as a High Court Judge) was to assess the costs of an application in relation to a Third-Party debt Order (made by the Guy Parties against the Third Party). It was necessary for the Court to consider whether there should be a summary assessment and also what hourly rates should be applicable.

The issue regarding the use of summary assessment was, in theory, a simple issue to resolve as the application hearing lasted less than a day and therefore CPR 44.6 PD 44 9.2 should apply. However, the Guy parties requested the Court make an Order for detailed assessment together with an interim payment in the sum of £29,173.78 (the same being 65% of the costs claimed).

However, the Court found that there was no good reason not to summarily assess the costs. HHJ reinforced the point behind summary assessment and stated that “Summary Assessment saves both time and money, even if is more “broad brush” than detailed assessment.”

In respect of the hourly rates, the Third Party argued that the applications were not sufficiently complex to justify specialist London based commercial Solicitors – it was a simple TPDO application in relation to a £70,000 debt.

When considering the hourly rates, the Court held that the Guy Parties’ Solicitors are based in the City and fall within either London 1 or 2 (2021 Guideline rates).

HHJ Matthews held that the applicability of the same depends on the level of complexity of the case and the fact that a central London Law Firm predominately undertakes heavy commercial work does not necessarily mean London 1 rates apply.

Having considered the complexity of the case, HHJ Matthews held that he could not see any factors involved in the application which would justify hourly rates significantly in excess of the guideline figures, and therefore, he would be looking at rates of London 2.

This is another case which demonstrates the need for complex issues to arise in a case to justify the hourly rates claimed and simply being in any given location, is not always sufficient to obtain the rates which are claimed.

To see the full case, please see here.

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