Following the recent publication of the Civil Procedure Rules Committee Minutes from December 2019, it is welcome news that Guideline Hourly Rates look set to be reviewed given that they were last updated nearly ten years ago.
This follows the recent decision of Mrs Justice O’Farrell in Ohpen Operations UK Ltd -v- Invesco Fund Managers Limited  EWHC 2504 (TCC), in which she commented that:
“13. The claimant submits that the defendant’s costs are unreasonably high and/or were unreasonably incurred in two respects:
- i) the hourly rates of the defendants’ solicitors are unreasonably high, particularly when compared against the Senior Courts Costs Office (“SCCO”) guideline rates; and
- ii) the time spent in relation to work done on documents is excessive.
- As to the first point, the hourly rates of the defendant’s solicitors are much higher than the SCCO guideline rates. It is unsatisfactory that the guidelines are based on rates fixed in 2010 and reviewed in 2014, as they are not helpful in determining reasonable rates in 2019. The guideline rates are significantly lower than the current hourly rates in many London City solicitors, as used by both parties in this case. Further, updated guidelines would be very welcome.”
(Further comment from MRN on this particular case can be found here: SCCO Guideline Rates not Helpful in 2019)
Given that the last review of the Guideline Hourly Rates took place in 2014, which did not result in an increase, the recent CPRC Minutes make welcome reading (LSC2019/33). The minutes confirm the Civil Executive Team are considering this as a ‘matter of urgency’ and look set to provide a short report on their findings before any involvement by the CPRC or Civil Justice Council.
Whilst there appears to be plenty of support for an increase in the Guideline Hourly Rates, the 2014 Review concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support an increase the Rates. Full backing therefore needs to be given to any Review, and this is something that we at MRN will be closely monitoring.
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