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In the recent case of R (Fuseon Limited) v Shinners [2020] EWHC B18 (Costs) Master Gordon-Saker had this to say on the topic of hourly rates:

“The guideline rates are of course just that. They are fairly blunt instruments designed to assist judges in the summary assessment of costs. The passage of time since 2010 means that they tend now to be used as a starting position rather than as carved in stone.”

That case is a central funds matter regarding the payment of private prosecution fees, where it was determined reasonable to instruct specialist solicitors located in Central London.  The Master held that it was not a particularly complex case and that the only matters relevant for departure from the guideline rates were the passage of time and the specialism of the solicitors instructed.

Where the rates were not limited by the indemnity principle he allowed £350 per hour for the grade A work (against the guideline £317, and the Partner rate was allowed as claimed), £210 per hour for the grade C (against the guideline £196, and £225 claimed) and £140 per hour for trainees (against the guideline £126, and £175/£225 claimed).

Whilst the case relates to criminal matters it does demonstrate the approach being taken by the SCCO on assessment in relation to increases to the guideline hourly rates.  The rates are also now subject to review by the Civil Justice Council, and there are arguments in favour of their being both increased and decreased.

Whether you are looking to maximise your recoveries or minimise your exposure we can assist you  – we regularly deal with cases on both sides of the “table” so know how to defend or attack such challenges with great success.

Other interesting features in this case are the findings that two fee earners attending a client or witness, or at trial, would rarely be reasonable without a specific reason.  However, reasonable inter fee earner discussions were allowed.

 

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