Court of Protection Guideline Hourly Rates On the Up for Professional Deputies
To say it has been a tough year would be an understatement, however there is now some welcome relief to professional Court of Protection practitioners ensuing from the judgement handed down by Costs Judge Whalan on 30 September 2020 in the case of PLK & Ors (Court of Protection Costs)  EWHC B28.
Court of Protection Orders contain a costs and expenses paragraph entitling a professional deputy to receive renumeration for their duties on occasion by way of fixed costs, but more usually for their costs to be assessed by way of detailed assessment by the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO). The hourly rates claimed by professional deputies within their Bill of Costs has been based on the Guideline Hourly Rates (GHR) which vary by location and were last updated in 2010.
The case of PLK & Ors concerned an application made by various professional deputies submitting that as the GHR that professional deputies are entitled to charge had not changed since 2010, these rates could not possibly recognise the impact of inflation, the specialism of the work undertaken, or the high overheads incurred by practitioners, amongst other important considerations.
Outcome – New GHR
Costs Judge Whalan recognised in paragraph 31 of his judgement that “it must be acknowledged that the GHR cannot be applied fairly as an index of reasonable remuneration unless these rates are subject to some form of periodic, upwards review”.
The court has recognised the corrosive effect of inflation and other cost increases over the past decade since the GHR were last updated.. As such Costs Judge Whalan ruled at paragraph 35, “that if hourly rates claimed fall within approximately 120% of the 2010 GHR, then these should be regarded as prima facie reasonable” and produced a helpful table as set out below:
Senior Costs Judge, Andrew Gordon-Saker has released a helpful Guidance Note summarising the impact of the recent decision, which can be accessed by clicking here.
This decision will inevitably raise many question about its intended application, though it is clear that professional deputyship fees are likely to be permissibly claimed on the increased hourly rates, where it is appropriate, justified, proportionate and in the protected parties’ best interests to do so.
Professional deputies do provide an invaluable service to the most vulnerable, often severely injured and incapacitated members of our society in a continually growing specialist area of law where sustainability will be of key importance going forwards.
Costs judge Whalen himself stated that “ I recognise also the force in the submission that the failure to review the GHR since 2010 threatens the viability of work that is fundamental to the operation of the CoP and the court system generally.”
*Disclaimer: The information on the Anthony Gold website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. It is provided without any representations or warranties, express or implied.*