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Disbursements – Do I? Don’t I?

Disbursements – Do I? Don’t I?

Within this edition, we feel there are still some grey areas to address as to what disbursements should or should not be claimed within your bill of costs. This is largely aimed at professional deputies, and those assisting professional deputies, and hope this proves to correctly identify what disbursements should be recovered from your bill of costs.

We are sure everyone knows what a disbursement is, but in the COP area, a disbursement is a payment made by the deputy that needs to be reimbursed from P’s estate.

These fees can range from several items covered by the deputy, such as court fees, Land Registry fees, travel and accommodation expenses, medical fees, miscellaneous expenses, OPG fees, expert fees and the list can go on.

However, many of these items do not necessarily need to be claimed within your bill of costs. In fact, most of these fees could be paid and recorded in the annual deputyship reports, which has been detailed by many costs officers over the years.

The best way of determining whether a disbursement needs to be claimed within your bill, is to consider whether that item has a profitable outcome, similar to profit costs, which needs to be further assessed.

For example, there is no “profitable outcome” to be made by court fees, as they are fixed and therefore no profit is being made by the deputy. Therefore, something like a court fee is best placed within the annual deputyship report.

On most cases, where a professional deputy is appointed on behalf of P, it has been guided by the costs officers at the SCCO, that typically, the only expenses that need to be claimed within the bill are travel, accommodation and subsistence fees and counsel’s fees.

However, this rule slightly changes on different cases. For example, if there is not a professional deputy appointed but instead a lay deputy, any disbursements incurred by the professional needs to be included within the bill of costs. This is because no annual deputyship report is being managed by the professional, and so, cannot be recovered or recorded elsewhere.  It is also advisable to include such fees within the bill of costs in the interests of transparency and this will enable the lay deputy to see the full cost of the application and any other associated fees incurred in their appointment.

In addition to the above, you may also find yourself involved with other application bills such as a Statutory Will Application. Again, with most cases, there is not an annual deputyship report being run, and so the only area for these items to be recovered is within the bill. In this case, and for the avoidance of doubt, all disbursements would need to be claimed within such applications.

With the new COP E-Bill being rolled out, the benefit is the use of formulas and the filtering of columns and cells. In this latest change of circumstances, any disbursements being claimed within the E-Bill now need to be categorised. For example, if you have travel expenses claimed, you will need to ensure the applicable expense code is provided with the claim. This ensures the correct types of fees are being claimed for the assessment.

We hope any confusion or uncertainty of disbursements have been addressed. However, we are always on hand to answer any queries you might have so do please feel free to contact our highly professional and friendly team.


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