Delegation is something that most Court of Protection Practitioners (and other professionals) are familiar with. It is also a recurring theme on assessments, whereby reductions are often applied to work undertaken by more Senior Fee Earners, most commonly, Deputy/Grade A or Grade B Fee Earners.
Firstly, and importantly, Master Whalan has recently agreed that the case of Fuseon Ltd should also apply to Court of Protection matters and that time spent on delegation is recoverable. This is however, Master Whalan’s opinion and not a rule outlined for all Costs Officers. Therefore, whilst the same may be used on appeal, where required, there is no guarantee that such an appeal would be successful.
Such delegation should also be justified and proportionate. Indeed, Master Whalan further advised that “the time spent delegating, should not be more or the same as the time the task itself will take”.
The delegation of tasks to another fee earner of the same grade, or taking the same amount of time completing the delegation process to a task that would also take the same length of time, is therefore not considered reasonable and justified.
The Court has previously considered that any visits to P (to take initial instructions, or the annual visit) are considered reasonable and justified at a higher Grade Fee Earner level. The same principle would apply to any attendances on Independent Financial Advisors, particularly where more complex issues or a large estate is being discussed for an investment portfolio.
Tasks undertaken that are considered more routine in nature relate to the payment of invoices, arranging property valuations or maintaining financial schedules for instance, should essentially, be completed by a Grade D Fee Earner.
Becks Doul, Senior Costs Draftsperson