The defendant costs specialists

Posts Tagged "hourly rates"

Grade C fee earner?

By on Jul 9, 2010 | 3 comments

I have a bill of costs which utilises various hourly rates for the “Grade C”, “Grade A” and “Costs Draftsman”. However, the bill fails to comply with Costs Practice Direction 4.5: “The background information included in the bill of costs should set out: (2) a statement of the status of the solicitor or solicitor’s employee in respect of whom costs are claimed and (if those costs are calculated on the basis of hourly rates) the hourly rates claimed for each such person.” Therefore, at an early stage (July 2009), I requested details of the names, qualifications and PQE of each fee earner. The claimant’s “law costs specialists” subsequently gave the names of the various fees earners and indicated which of them they classified as Grade A or Grade C. Oddly, there was a total failure to deal with the question of qualifications or PQE. The matter drags on and Points of Dispute are served in September which repeat the request for details of the qualifications and PQE of the fee earners. Replies are served months out of time in December. These Replies give the date of qualification of two of the fee earners (the Grade As) and state in relation to the other three fee earners that they “do not have the qualifications however all have the relevant experience to claim a Grade C Grade.” Grade A and B fee earners are defined as follows: A – Solicitors with over eight years post qualification experience including at least eight years litigation experience. B – Solicitors and legal executives with over four years post qualification experience including at least four years litigation experience. A Grade C fee earner is defined as: “Other solicitors and legal executives and fee earners of equivalent experience”. The Guide to Summary Assessment of Costs (page 1494 of the White Book 2010) states: “Whether or not a fee earner has equivalent experience is ultimately a matter for the discretion of the court.” More specifically, the Guide states: “Unqualified clerks who are fee earners of equivalent experience may be entitled to similar rates and in this regard it should be borne in mind that Fellows of the Institute of Legal Executives generally spend two years in a...

Read More

Make my hourly rate a double

By on Jun 28, 2010 | 6 comments

When flying back from holiday the other day I was glancing at the on-board bar prices. (Despite living a multi-millionaire playboy lifestyle, I am too mean to pay for a flight that has a free bar.) They were selling 5cl miniatures of Bombay Sapphire gin (standard 40% strength) for £4 a bottle. By my maths, that works out at £80 a litre. The same flight was selling duty free (which unfortunately you are not meant to consume on the flight) Bombay Sapphire (at 47% strength: the good stuff) for £24 for two one litre bottles: £12 a litre. That, by any standards, is a significant price differential. In the field of legal costs there is a similar level of surprising price gap between the hourly rates that claimant representatives claim and the rates charged by defendant lawyers. Claimants argue that this difference is not evidence that they are overpaid – and therefore that the Guideline Hourly Rates are too high – but rather is due to a combination of the fact that defendant lawyers have guaranteed work volumes and that claimant lawyers have different acquisition costs due to advertising and/or referral fees. I will leave others to decide whether this explains the following example. This is simply one in my current case load and is far from being anything like the most extreme example I have seen. The case concerns a high profile, high damages sporting injury claim. The main fee earner (a Grade A) for the claimant is based in a Northern city (Band One). The rate claimed for 2007 is £285. A 100% success fee is claimed in addition. With VAT at 15%, the total claimed is £655.50 per hour. The main fee earner (also Grade A) for the defendant is based in Central London. The rate charged to the defendant insurers for 2007 was £160 (£184 with VAT). Both fee earners are specialists in this type of claim. So, a rate of £655.50 as against £184. It is no doubt fair to say that comparing a CFA funded case with a non-CFA funded case is something of an artificial comparison. Nevertheless, the base hourly rate claimed by the claimant’s solicitor is 46% above the Guideline Hourly...

Read More

Hourly rates out of control?

By on Jun 25, 2010 | 0 comments

Ropewalk Chambers has an excellent article on their website by Andrew Hogan on how the current approach to hourly rates has led to a lack of proportionality and transparency in legal costs.  This article was first presented to the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen at this year’s annual conference and has also appeared in the Personal Injury Law...

Read More

Wrong on Guideline Hourly Rates

By on Jun 1, 2010 | 0 comments

In a previous post I wrote that I was going to admit to being wrong on three occasions.  Here is the second confession.  Back in January, I predicted there would be no increase in the Guideline Hourly Rates.  That prediction turned out to be inaccurate and the rates were indeed increased in April.  However, as the Advisory Committee on Civil Costs observed, their decision to increase in line with the private wage index meant the 1.7% increase was “well below current RPI inflation and so will lead to a significant fall in the real pay of solicitors operating in this area”.  They also made clear: “we  have  yet  to  complete  our  analyses  of  the  issues  raised  in  our  paper  The Derivation  of  New  Guideline  Hourly  Rates”.  So what is that review likely to conclude?  The Senior Costs Judge, Master Hurst, commented at the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen’s National Conference that: “The chances of the advisory committee coming up with agreed hourly rates that would be universally accepted are absolutely zero”. ...

Read More

Guideline Hourly Rates 2010

By on Jan 6, 2010 | 2 comments

Will there be an increase in the Guideline Hourly Rates for 2010?  The latest news is that the Master of the Rolls has decided to wait until after publication of Sir Rupert Jackson’s report of his review of Civil Litigation Costs before deciding whether to make any changes to the current Guideline Hourly Rates. That report is due to be published on 14 January 2010.  My prediction: no change. Click image to enlarge:  ...

Read More