The Claimant solicitors acted for the Claimant in matrimonial proceedings between November 2013 and September 2018. Following a “long history of protracted, difficult litigation” including a divorce suit, ancillary relief and Family Law Act non-molestation and occupation order applications the Claimant faced total legal costs in the sum of £263,426.11.
This appeal from a summary assessment of costs was brought on grounds that the District Judge had failed to have sufficient regard to the components of the claimant’s N260 Statement of Costs and had effectively imposed her own unilateral tariff without any calculation or proper reasoning, contrary to the Court of Appeal’s guidance in 1800 Flowers Inc v Phonenames Limited  EWCA Civ 721.
In our article How Relevant Is The SCCO Guide To Hourly Rates we looked at three cases in which two High Court Judges and the Senior Costs Judge independently commented on the passage of time since the guideline rates were last updated in 2010 and, consequentially, their relevance on detailed and summary assessments being conducted in 2020.
Following a successful private prosecution of his former co-director, resulting in three years of imprisonment, the claimant was awarded payment of his prosecution costs out of central funds. The designated officer allowed him the sum of £150,000 plus VAT as against a total sum of £427.909.66.
The designated officer’s determination was based largely on the disallowance of central London rates on grounds that adequate representation could have been found more locally and the application of a Singh reduction based on a comparator with the notional cost of the case being brought by the CPS.
The SCCO Guide To Hourly Rates was last updated in 2010. In 2014 it was reviewed by the then Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson MR, but left unchanged due to a lack of reliable evidence.
But how relevant is the guide five years on?