Costs News

29 November 2017
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News in brief

CPR update clarifies cost of budgeting

The latest update to the CPR has clarified how the 1% and 2% charges for costs budgeting and management should be calculated. As of 22 November, PD3E 7.2 now reads:

“7.2 Save in exceptional circumstances—

(a) the recoverable costs of initially completing Precedent H shall not exceed the higher of £1,000 or 1% of the total of the incurred costs (as agreed or allowed on assessment) and the budgeted costs (agreed or approved); and

(b) all other recoverable costs of the budgeting and costs management process shall not exceed 2% of the total of the incurred costs (as agreed or allowed on assessment) and the budgeted (agreed or approved) costs.”

 

Small rise to ACL subscription rate

Membership of the ACL will cost £200 next year, the Council has reluctantly decided. It represents a £20 rise on the previous year and the first increase since 2015. It was considered necessary to maintain the ACL’s range of activities and services to members.

It also comes at a time of challenge for the ACL, as documented at last month’s open forum, especially given the need to support existing students in light of the recent CLSB decision on the future of the Costs Lawyer training course.

 

Law Society to challenge crime fee cuts

The Law Society is set to challenge government plans to cut criminal defence fees in court.

The solicitors’ body announced on Tuesday that it was to issue a pre-action protocol letter for judicial review over the decision to cut the litigators’ graduated fee scheme (LGFS).

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) wants to reduce the number of pages of prosecution evidence (PPE) on which solicitors are paid from 10,000 to 6,000, which followed a costs judge decision in 2014 that broadened the circumstances in which electronic evidence could be paid as PPE. Claims for pages in excess of 6,000 will go into the special preparation provisions.

In its consultation earlier this year, the MoJ said: “It is in cases with 6,000 or more pages that we have seen a significant increase in PPE caused in part by electronic evidence now coming within the definition of PPE, most commonly mobile phone or computer downloads in serious drugs and fraud cases. Applying the special preparation provisions will mean that, where there are more than 6,000 pages, we will allow payment for work reasonably and actually undertaken.”

The Law Society argued this week that, in reality, rates for less complex Crown Court cases were now so low that firms doing this work have been making a loss. Often solicitors have been cross-subsidising this work with funding from bigger cases.

Law Society vice-president Christina Blacklaws said: “The Law Society has consistently warned that this fragile criminal legal aid market cannot stand any further cuts. Any more will put access to justice in this country under even greater threat. We now have no choice but to take this significant step.

“The relatively minor savings that might be obtained from these ill-advised cuts do not warrant the substantial damage they could cause…

“The impact of the fee-cut of 8.75% in March 2014 has not yet been assessed – either on the sustainability of legal aid firms or on the savings it has brought to the government.”

“Further savings are set to be made in the future from a wide-ranging courts and tribunals reform programme and other initiatives. The savings from these initiatives must be taken into account before potentially damaging cuts are made to solicitors’ fees.”

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