I accept that in relation to a summary assessment on an indemnity basis, it may be appropriate to adopt rates that are marginally in excess of the guideline rates but what is reasonable depends ultimately not on the value of the litigation as a whole but on the nature of the application in respect of which costs are sought. This was a relatively straight forward application for an extension of time to serve witness statements. Whilst I am prepared to adopt the London 1 rates, essentially on the basis of an acceptance by the defendant that that is appropriate in the circumstances, given the nature of the application it is entirely inappropriate that I should attempt to exercise whatever jurisdiction I have to assess costs by reference to a rate that is higher than the guideline rate. Anything in excess of the guideline rate has to be justified, and Mr Sprange realistically has not attempted to do so. Therefore all sums for which payment is due under this assessment will be calculated at the London 1 guideline rates applicable for the appropriate fee earners.“
“The events of this case all took place during a short period in 2019. The guideline hourly rates (“GHR”) operative from 1 October 2021 are, in my view, likely to be the preferred starting point in most cases (rather than the 2010 version). Where the work is as recent as 2019, it seems to me there is really no argument that the correct starting point is the 2021 guideline figures.”
“I have taken into account the Guide to the Summary Assessment of Costs re-issued by the Master of the Rolls in September 2021 (the “Guide”) and to be used from 1 October 2021. The guideline hourly rates in the previous guide were not ones that I would have adopted without more in any event, as is well recorded they were extremely out of date by 2021.”
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?