Award-winning Court of Protection Costs Specialists
In this month’s edition we intend to provide you with updates regarding topics of interest following the recent Civil Justice Council Costs Review and, in particular, consider the impact of this and what this means for Court of Protection practitioners. We will also explore the new electronic pilot relating to new deputyship applications and consider any costs issues that might arise. This article will be of interest to professional deputies and/or those assisting a professional deputy and those who work in the Court of Protection areas of law.
Following the Master of the Rolls’ acceptance of new guideline hourly rates in August 2021, a new Civil Justice Council working group was set up to report again on the guideline hourly rates within 2 years of that acceptance.
Within the review, it was recommended that the system of guideline hourly rates be retained and the guideline hourly rates produced serve a useful function. It has been confirmed that the rates should be retained, but with adjustment for inflation.
Inflation can have a significant impact on the guideline hourly rates. It can increase the cost of living and running a law firm and make legal services more expensive for clients. The Senior Courts Costs Office must continue to remain vigilant to these effects and potentially adjust the guideline hourly rates accordingly to ensure that they remain fair and competitive.
With this in mind, we consider that the guidance allows for practitioners to claim yearly increases to rates to reflect inflation and advise the following should be paramount to support recoverability of the same:
Master James is of the view that it would not be sufficient to merely state “these rates are subject to adjustment in accordance with inflation”
Electronic application process
With the evolution of the Court systems sees the introduction of electronic filing for applications to appoint a new deputy. Applications for a replacement deputy can also be filed electronically, subject to the initial appointment being completed via the e-portal. This is of benefit to practitioners as orders can be expected to be received quicker than via the traditional paper application route. This will also prevent ongoing chasers, as the deputy will be able to monitor the progress of the matter and view any sealed documents by searching for them on the e-filing service.
We consider it beneficial for practitioners to get on board with utilising the electronic filing portal for the above given that the Senior Courts Costs Office will, in the future, look to disallow costs incurred for preparation of paper applications. The date of this is yet to be confirmed, but we are aware this is on the horizon to encourage practitioners to utilise the new application format.
Whilst the intention of the notification process remains the same, it is important to note that the sequence is different when electronically filing as the documents will need to be drafted and parties notified prior to the submission on the e-portal.
If a representative has notified P regarding the application, the COP14PADep (application and acknowledgment form) will need to be submitted. If P was notified about the application directly by the deputy, additional forms will not need to be submitted. A COP15PADep (notice that an application form will be issued) will also need to be submitted to parties connected to the application.
We understand that once these documents have been submitted, subject to everything being in order, new deputyship orders are being made within a couple of weeks. However, if that was not reason enough to utilise the new system, surely the fact that a costs penalty for utilising the old methods will be.
We do hope that you have found this month’s article to be of interest. We would be happy to hear from anyone who may require further assistance in relation to the above. If this is something of interest, please do not hesitate to contact us, our details are provided below.
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