SARPD rule change “coming”
Costs management conferences have become more “disputatious” following the Court of Appeal’s SARPD ruling earlier this year, barrister Stephen Innes of 4 New Square has reported, but he said that “the grapevine seems to be suggesting that there will be a rule change in the autumn” to avoid its effect.
The SARPD judgment said that while the court can only approve estimated costs, not incurred costs, the court can comment on incurred costs. It followed that, if a budget was simply agreed, the opportunity to seek court comments on incurred costs had not been taken and the effect was the same as if those incurred costs had been agreed.
In an interview with the LexisNexis Dispute Resolution website about what developments in costs he expected in the rest of 2016, Mr Innes predicted that the “hot topic” would probably be assignment of conditional fee agreements, “as a Court of Appeal decision is badly needed to consider the correctness or otherwise of Jenkins v Young Brothers Transport Limited  EWHC 151 (QB)”.
An appeal that was eagerly awaited because of the number of cases it affected, and because of the time that has been taken for the appeal to be heard, he continued, was Bird v Acorn Group in the Court of Appeal on 19 and 20 October 2016. This concerns what costs are to be allowed under the fixed costs regime in CPR part 45 in circumstances where the court has dispensed with allocation but listed a disposal hearing. Has the case been ‘listed for trial’?
He said: “This last is a plea rather than a realistic expectation of a development. At the beginning of 2015, Dyson MR (pictured) rejected the recommendations as to revised guideline hourly rates. Whatever the merits of that decision, the 2010 guideline rates are becoming increasingly out of date and really could do with updating, not least because, in my view, if they could be said to reflect current rates they could potentially be a useful tool at costs management conferences.”
Legal Aid Agency raises standard costs limitations
The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) has announced changes to the Client and Cost Management System (CCMS) which it said “should improve your experience of the system when making applications”.
These include changes to standard cost limitations in various cases “to help reduce the number of amendment requests providers need to submit”. The LAA said this would also allow providers to work on cases for longer before an increase was needed/required, and less LAA involvement during the lifetime of the case.
The areas of law affected and the new standard cost limitation are set out below. Note that the changes only apply to substantive applications, excluding judicial review proceedings. There are no changes to certificates for emergency delegated functions certificates – the standard £1,350 will still apply. All certificates with limitations currently set over those new standard limits will remain at their higher cost limitation.
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