News in brief – 17.08.2017

Costs Lawyers go Green

Claire Green (pictured), the outgoing ACL policy officer, has been elected to the vacant seat on the ACL Council.

 

Reduction of incurred hourly rates knocks on to budget rates, says master

A deputy master who reduced hourly rates for incurred costs on detailed assessment has ruled that he had “good reason” to do the same for the budgeted costs.

 To do otherwise would mean that the claimant would recover an hourly rate as set out in Precedent H for the budgeted stage “at a level that significantly exceeds the figure I consider to be reasonable and proportionate for the pre-budget stage”.

 Ruling in RNB v London Borough of Newham [2017] EWHC B15 (Costs), Deputy Master Campbell said: “If (as it is the case) the hourly rate is a mandatory component in Precedent H which is not and cannot be subjected to the rigours of detailed assessment at the CCMC, it makes no sense if it is automatically left untouched when the rates for the incurred work are scrutinised at the ‘conventional’ assessment.

 “Such an approach would offend against the guidance given in Harrison at paragraph 44. Indeed, as [counsel for the defendant] points out, it is only on that occasion that a paying party has an opportunity to challenge the rate.”

 This was, therefore, a “good reason” to depart from the costs allowed in the claimant’s last approved budget.”

 This situation would be different if the court at the case and costs management hearing approved hourly rates “in terms”, as happened in the cases of Stocker and Group Seven.

 

Crown Court billing to go online only

Paper forms will no longer be accepted for Advocates’ Graduated Fee Scheme (AGFS) and Litigators’ Graduated Fee Scheme (LGFS) claims after 31 October 2017, the Legal Aid Agency has announced.

 The Claim for Crown Court Defence (CCD) system will be mandatory for AGFS and LGFS billing from 31 October 2017. It said support is available to help paper form users switch to online working.

 More than 50% of bills are already submitted online instead of using the paper alternative (60% for AGFS and 46% for LGFS).

 The agency asked all providers to switch to submitting claims electronically as soon as possible. “This will help prevent unnecessary delay to the processing of your claims.”

 Any AGFS or LGFS bill will be accepted on paper providing it is received by the Legal Aid Agency on or before 31 October 2017. Consideration will be given to accepting AGFS and LGFS paper bills on a case-by-case basis until 31 December 2017.

 The agency said system improvements being worked on include introducing fee calculations within the system for both AGFS and LGFS fees.

For more information, click here, and to book online training, click here.

 

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Costs News
Published date
17 Aug 2017

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