I recently attended a discussion held by the Professional Deputies Forum (PDF) for their members on the fallout from the recent case of PLK & Others and what effect this was having on the assessment of costs.
In the case of PLK & Others, Master Whalan found that an increase in the guideline hourly rates by 20% was to be regarded as prima facie reasonable, and he provided a table of enhanced hourly rates to assist the Costs Officers when assessing whether the hourly rates claimed are reasonable.
However, the general consensus is that the Costs Officers at the SCCO are not allowing the recovery of the higher hourly rates prior to the date of Master Whalan’s judgment on the grounds that the Professional Deputy could not possibly have expected to recover those rates prior to that date. This goes against Master Whalan’s statement in paragraph 35 of his judgment that: “this approach can be adopted immediately and is applicable to all outstanding bills, regardless of whether the period is 2018, 2019, 2020 or subsequently.” I believe such provisional assessments are being appealed and it remains to be seen what the outcome will be.
Rebecca Sparrow and Russell Caller, both of the PDF, are meeting with Master Whalan and Master James at the end of January to discuss this issue, as well as many others relating to the assessment of costs, and are inviting Professional Deputies to get in touch with details of any issues they would like to be raised. Hopefully, after their meeting, we will gain further clarity and certainty going forward.
Julie Fitzpatrick, Costs Lawyer & Head of Private Client Department
Direct Dial: 01228 815395
Email: [email protected]