PLK and Others – Recovery of increased hourly rates in the Court of Protection

We are starting our 12 days of Costmas with a bang – the recent PLK case is possibly the biggest case of the year and the findings in the same could signify what is to come in 2021.

In this case, an application was made by 4 different firms who argued that the 2010 guideline rates failed to recognize the specialism and high overheads Court of Protection practitioners face. They also argued that the rates did not reflect inflation over the past 10 years.

The matter was considered by Master Whalan who stated that whilst he could not change the hourly rates (only the Civil Justice Council had that power) he could establish the Courts approach.

Whilst Master Whalan rejected that the costs burden was higher in the Court of Protection, he did accept they should be subject to “some form of periodic, upwards review”. The Master concluded that if hourly rates claimed fell within around 120% of the 2010 guideline rates, they should be regarded as ‘prima facie reasonable’, albeit still subject to assessment.

The Master also stated that in future the Courts should exercise some ‘broad and pragmatic flexibility’ when applying the 2010 rates to hourly rates claimed. The Master approved costs higher than the GHR in all four cases, and produced a table for future guidance applying a 20% uplift on 2010 figures (see below):

Guideline Hourly Rates
BandsABCD
London 1£490£355£271£165
London 2£380£290£235£151
London 3£275-320£206-275£198£145
National 1£260£230£193£142
National 2£241£212£175£133

A practice note was issued in the flashest of flashes following the judgment reminding practitioners that the indemnity principle still applied and that they were not able to withdraw or amend bills waiting for assessment to include the higher hourly rates without an application. A further point of note is that OPG 105 will still be in play.

Whilst this matter involved claims within the Court of Protection it is clear that this case will span the breadth of all costs claimed and Claimants will be relying on the same to justify the recovery of higher hourly rates.

This theme will be examined in a further blog entry, there is also an argument to suggest that this could well be a precursor for an increase in hourly rates in the forthcoming year.

Please see the full Judgment here.

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

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