This morning it was announced that a significant step had been taken in the Courts accepting that the Guideline Hourly rates that had been in place since 2010 (and indeed not updated) were no longer reasonably viable.
Master Whalan, has provided commentary in a case which concerned an Appeal to the challenge on the application of Guideline Hourly rates, stating:
“In 2020 the GHR cannot be applied reasonably or equitably without some form of monetary uplift that recognises the erosive effect of inflation and, no doubt, other commercial pressures since the last formal review in 2010”
He then went on to say:
“It seems clear to me that the failure to review the GHR since 2010 constitutes an omission which is not simply regrettable but seriously problematic where the GHR form the ‘going rates’ applied on assessment. I do not merely express some empathy for Deputies engaged in COP work, I recognise also the force in the submission that the failure to review the GHR since 2010 threatens the viability of work that is fundamental to the operation of the COP and the court system generally”
In 2014 there was a review of the Guideline Hourly rates, however, Mr Justice Foskett, who was the Chairman of the CJC Costs Committee cited the response rate from Solicitor members as being “poor”. Despite the poor response from members the committee recommended an increase in Guideline Hourly rates from £217.00 per hour for Grade A Band 1 to £237.00 per hour. This was an increase of 9.2%. However, the Master of the Rolls never increased the Guideline Hourly rates despite the recommendations.
It has been well publicised in the last 12 months that a report, expected to be published by the end of 2020, would provide further recommendations for adjustments to the Guideline Hourly rates in the hope that this time the Master of the Rolls would indeed increase the Guideline Hourly rates.
Master Whalan specifically stated that rates claimed at 120% of the 2010 rates (20% above the 2010 rates) should be regarded as reasonable until the hourly rates are revised.
Today’s news will be welcomed by Professional Deputies across the board and indeed by the wider legal industry as it will be hoped that this is a sign of things to come.