Guideline Hourly Rates Guidance

Despite the disappointment that no new Guideline Hourly Rates have been published, the recent review has finally killed off the argument that Guideline Hourly Rates are of no relevance to detailed assessment and are designed purely for summary assessments on the fast track.

The Costs Committee stated of the GHRs they are:

“primarily a guideline rate for summary assessments and a starting point for calculating rates in detailed assessments”

and:

“The GHR are themselves guidelines and a benchmark for summary assessments. As such, they may provide a helpful starting point in the detailed assessment process, but no more than that.”

The Master of the Rolls wrote:

“It is also important to emphasise the the guidelines were originally intended to be broad approximations of actual rates in the market.”

This is key, the GHRs are intended to reflect the rates that solicitors actually charge in different localities. They were never intended to reflect only what solicitors charge for fast-track litigation (£409 per hour anyone?). Much less was it ever suggested that solicitors charged their clients different hourly rates, for example, for interim hearings where the court dealt with the costs by way of summary assessment as opposed to deferring the matter to detailed assessment.

David Greene, a member of the CJC Costs Committee, writing in the New Law Journal stated:

“GHRs apply largely to fast track and multi track litigation outside the fixed costs regimes. … Further while GHRS were originally introduced to assist judges with summary assessment they had become the cornerstone for all assessment.”

The Master of the Rolls concluded:

“GHRs are needed to guide summary and detailed assessment of costs.”

They are a starting point for both. Nothing more, nothing less.

8 thoughts on “Guideline Hourly Rates Guidance

  1. If they are a starting point does that mean defendants will stop asserting that they apply to everything?

  2. Birkenhead – “We always apply Band 1 rates per the Guidelines”
    Manchester – “There is no good reason not to apply the Guideline rates”
    Birmingham – “The Guideline rates are set by the SCCO and endorsed by the Supreme Court itself, so why would any other apply”
    SCCO – “they may be Guideline for SA in other Courts, but here, they stand”

    Starting Point? The only way to depart from them, is to demonstrate, with evidence, why they should not be applied.As the recent exercise shows, that evidence, is insufficient, particularly when there is an attempt by one party to self-present evidence from its own source.

    expect to be bound by the rates, they aren’t for debate.

  3. Anonymous on August 11th, 2014 9:48 am

    I suspect this is a wind up aimed at claimants but I’ll bite anyway.

    I wish what you said was correct but it is not in relation to all classes of cases. for example in Manchester the regional costs judge routinely allows high levels of enhancement in any high value case or case deemed to require specialist knowledge such as regional pain syndrome or clin neg. The enhancement is often applied with no regard to A + B factors or any alternative evidence or cross check as to the going rate or any discernible logic. This is particularly the case given there have been no market forces for hourly rates for PI or clin neg claims throughout the CFA era(or LSC funding in the case of clin neg)as claimant’s never pay the rates.

    Leeds routinely give high enhancement from even the guideline Grade A rate as do Sheffield (although to a lesser extent) and many judges in the SCCO although there are huge disparities between different masters.

    Lots of other Courts adopt the same approach and zero real guidance on the topic in the post CPR era (ie since A + B factors were no longer explicitly referred to).

    My view is always allow guideline rates and no more but bitter experience tells me that that is not what always happens on DA.

  4. @ ‘king costs
    I suspect the anonymous poster, was referring to routine matters, not high value/complex matters requiring a deconstruction of the rates to apply enhancement – I too have had similar comments from DJ’s, expanding across Leeds and Newcastle, and also down in Bristol and Cardiff.

    You are entirely correct otherwise, there is no rhyme nor reason displayed to non-routine matters and what rate is allowed. The closest I got, was in Preston, where the RCJ helpfully accepted a deconstruction of the present rates and submissions on enhancement before coming to a figure – but stated it was case specific

  5. has anyone else come across certain firms claiming “litigation executives” “experience of more than 6 years warranting Grade C”, but when you look into that, in actual fact they are counting the time at Uni getting a Law Degree plus time on the LPC, as part of this “experience”?

  6. We would like to conduct a survey on legal cost in rwanda. Is there any one who might be aware of any similar study for us to finalize terms of reference before we publish them
    Thierry

  7. absent the idiot above, why is nobody among our “esteemed” contributors, willing to comment on the post re: some firms claiming “experience” for being at Uni/LPC course to get the Grade C?

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