SCCO warns about Court of Protection bills backlog
The Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) has urged parties not to chase progress on Court of Protection bills, of which it now has a “significant backlog” due to staff shortages on all teams and issues relating to Covid-19.
In a note published this week, it said waiting times and enquiries regarding progress have increased as a result.
“Please be assured that we do understand how frustrating delays can be for our customers and staff are working hard to improve the situation. However, the need to respond to a high volume of chasing queries is impacting on the time they have to process the backlog, which in turn, has a counter-productive effect on waiting times.”
Bills are assessed in order of the date upon which the supporting paperwork was received and the SCCO said costs officers were currently assessing cases for which the supporting papers arrived around late July.
“We usually allow two weeks for the assessment of the bill. Once assessed, it is returned to the admin team for despatch. Unfortunately, there is also a backlog of assessed bills with the admin team and they are currently processing bills returned to them by the costs officers in the second week of December.”
In terms of e-filings that have been submitted, but not yet accepted or rejected, the SCCO was currently working on filings submitted around mid-December.
The SCCO requested that practitioners do not make enquiries about bills submitted after these dates, saying it planned to issue a bi-weekly update “so that customers are aware of the approximate time periods involved”.
Supreme Court refuses permission to appeal costs cases
The Supreme Court has refused permission to appeal in two significant costs cases: Lejonvarn v Burgess and Deepchand v Sooben.
In Lejonvarn, the Court of Appeal rejected the argument that a party should not be awarded indemnity costs because that would allow her to get away with substantially exceeding her costs budget.
In Deepchand, the appeal court held that a High Court judge was wrong to make no order for costs after refusing an application for a non-party costs order against a solicitor and law firm.
140th CPR update on the way
The 140th CPR update will come into force on 6 April. It includes an increase in the small claims track limit in non-road traffic personal injury claims from £1,000 to £1,500 and changes to part 47 to clarify the powers of an authorised costs officer.
Rule 47.3(1) says that an authorised court officer has all the powers of the court when making a detailed assessment, subject to certain exceptions. The change to rule 47.3(1)(b)(ii) adds to the exceptions rules 47.14(3) and (4) (sanction for delay in requesting a detailed assessment hearing).
It also makes some small changes to PD 47 on provisional assessments.