We have recently been advised that the electronic bill of costs in Court of Protection matters is now ready for consultation, and that the members of the Professional Deputies Forum and the Solicitors for the Elderly will be invited to consider and make comments on the bill before it is rolled out. We have not yet seen the bill but we have been informed that the SCCO have requested that the bill incorporates the costs estimates given in the previous year’s OPG105, broken down by the four categories, namely:
- Contact with the client, their family and friends;
- Contact with case managers and care providers;
- Contact with other parties; and
- Work on forms and other documents.
We do not yet know the reasoning for this but we are concerned that the Costs Officers may view the estimates as limits for the costs claimed within the bill. We therefore strongly recommend that you review your current OPG105 estimates, and carefully consider any future estimates, to ensure they are as accurate as they possibly can be for each of the above categories.
When assisting our clients in calculating the costs estimates, we usually include attendances (including travel), telephone calls and single unit letters and emails under the ‘Contact’ categories. All other time spent on the matter, such as consideration of issues and preparation of documents and lengthy correspondence, is included in ‘Work on forms and other documents’. This is often the category with the highest costs estimate. The Costs Draftsman’s time for preparing the bill of costs should also be included in the latter category. It may also be helpful to consider your previous year’s bill of costs as a starting point for future costs estimates.
Obviously, circumstances can change throughout the general management year and the estimates may be exceeded as a result. Should this happen, it would be advisable to update the OPG of the likely increased costs as soon as possible, and to include an explanation for the increased costs in your bill of costs at the end of the year, and hopefully this will be taken into account.
If you have any queries concerning this issue, please do not hesitate to contact our Head of Private Client, Julie Fitzpatrick, on [email protected].