Dear Constituency Members,
Guideline Hourly Rates
I am a member of the Guideline Hourly Rates Costs Committee, representing defendant solicitors. Please see below a message and request for information from the committee. Please could defendant solicitors get in touch with any points they wish me to make specifically relevant to their positions. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mr Justice Stewart is the Chair of the GHR committee and says as follows:
Guideline Hourly Rates (GHR) report 2020.
I have been commissioned by the Master of the Rolls to chair a working group whose remit is to conduct an evidence-based review of the basis and amount of the guideline hourly rates and to make recommendations accordingly to the Deputy Head of Civil Justice and to the Civil Justice Council. Members of the group include Senior Costs Judge Andrew Gordon-Saker, Judge Bird (DCJ Greater Manchester) and District Judge Simon Middleton, as well as solicitors, a barrister, and representatives of CILEx, consumers and the MoJ. A member of the Civil Justice Council will also join the group.
You will be aware that GHRs have not been revised since 2010, despite a report by the Foskett committee in 2014. The approach to and evidence for fixing GHRs is a complex matter.
The group has resolved to obtain evidence as to what is allowed by (i) Regional Costs Judges and (ii) SCCO Costs Judges and authorised court officers on detailed assessments (including provisional assessments) which they undertake.
GHRs are an important tool for assessing costs. They are particularly useful as a guide for judges who are inexperienced in that area. What Costs Judges in fact allow across a range of cases will be a highly important contribution to the report which the group has to prepare.
To that end, I am requesting you to complete and send the attached two forms electronically.
The first form is an Excel spreadsheet which is intended to provide information on assessments between 1 April 2019 and 31 August 2020. It is also intended to obtain evidence, if it is available, of agreement reached between legal professionals as to hourly rates whether or not there has been an assessment by a judge.
It may be that you collect such information for management information purposes, in which case you may prefer to provide, or provide in addition, an extract or report derived from that source. This may include fuller details of what was claimed by the receiving party and offered by the paying party [and, if the hourly rates were assessed/agreed, what was assessed or agreed] in terms of preparation time, letters written etc.
Please be assured that your data will be treated in the strictest confidence. It would be very helpful if you could provide this information as soon as possible after 31 August 2020 and not later than 31 October 2020. Please send this information to CJC.GHR@judiciary.uk
The second form deals with costs assessments between 1 September 2020 and 27 November 2020. Please provide this information as soon as possible after each costs assessment. The form is attached as a word document and an excel spreadsheet, or you can complete it online here. You can choose which format is best for you. The completed word or excel form is to be emailed to CJC.GHR@judiciary.uk once an assessment has been completed.
Please send details of all the assessments on which you have/will have evidence, not just on selected cases.
It may be that you cannot complete every item of information requested on the forms. If this is so, please provide all that you have.
A number of professional organisations have been contacted about this exercise and more than one may ask you to respond. Please ensure that evidence about one assessment is not duplicated.
It is difficult to overestimate the importance of your help in this regard. Your professional experience, reflected in the supply of information, will serve to guide the working group in producing its report. If the recommendations in the report are accepted, the benefit to the judiciary, the legal profession and court users as a whole will be very substantial. I appreciate that you are all busy. The forms have been kept as short as possible. I would be very grateful if you would consider this task as a matter of priority. As the responses arrive, the intention is that the information will be considered and collated. It is hoped that a draft report will be ready for full consultation by the end of 2020.
Thank you for your cooperation.
Mr Justice Stewart
Coronavirus – Impact on the Courts
Litigators will be pleased to see that the Courts which closed are reopening and cases which were stayed are being re-listed. There is an increasing use of remote hearings. There is going to be a backlog of cases, particularly possession cases, small claims and personal injury trials. As your Law Society Civil Litigation representative I am interested to hear how you are finding it using the Court system at the moment and any particular concerns that you may have.
One proposal to help to clear the backlog is to encourage the resolution of cases through mediation. A tsunami of litigation has been predicted by some. Anyone interested in using a mediator or training as a civil and commercial mediator please get in touch. I am running Civil Mediation Council approved mediator training courses in September and October (with in person assessment day).
At the forthcoming AGM of the Law Society, proposals, as approved by Council, will be discussed in relation to amending the Bye-Laws as they relate to the composition of Council. These proposals raise important issues, not least that they seek to have all Council seats directly elected rather than, as now, some filled by nomination by non-Law Society organisations such as APIL and FOIL. If you have views on these matters, you are strongly encouraged to register to attend and vote at the AGM.
If you are planning to attend the AGM please click on this link and complete and submit the form. A link to access the virtual AGM will then be sent to you shortly before the AGM, no later than midday on 13 Tuesday October.
ProMediate (UK) Limited