Page 28 - PIC Magazine Autumn Issue 16
P. 28

 Looking for tips on how to
Levels of contact
This is, in our view, always a tricky issue. It is necessary for you, as practitioners, to do all you can to advise and assist your clients and their family, to ensure actions are taken in P’s best interests. This often involves working closely with P and their family, along with fellow professionals, particularly in the early phases of a deputyship.
Court of Protection Costs?
Look no further! Paul Cruickshanks heads up the dedicated Court of Protection Team at A&M Bacon - Legal Costs Specialists. With over ten years’ experience within this specialist field, he shares with PIC Magazine ‘Five Top Tips’ on preventing cost reductions made by the SCCO.
For this article I thought it would be useful to identify common reductions made by the SCCO when assessing your costs and, perhaps more helpfully, to suggest ways in which you can seek to mitigate these reductions.
We submit numerous bills for assessment each year and are careful to monitor the outcomes following assessment, which enables us to see the nature of the reductions made by the costs officers and recognise any trends.
Here, I run through the five most common reductions the court makes when assessing Court of Protection bills of costs.
However, lately we have noted that costs officers are reducing the time claimed for meetings, attendances and preparation time on P and their family, as well as other parties, if the court feels this time is too high. The case of Trudy Samler is often cited as the reason for this.
It is worthwhile bearing in mind that each time you attend a meeting with the family, the reasons for
said meeting should be contained within your attendance note; this will help to justify the same. This
is particularly important where
the client lives further afield and additional time and expenses are incurred for travelling to the family.
The second idea you may wish to consider will be to advise the family of the cost of the meeting. This can be particularly useful for second, third, fourth meetings that are
held at the request of the family.
If you have advised them of the costs following their request, you can state to the court that you have advised the family of the costs and they were happy to proceed. Again, this will help to ensure your time is recovered.
Again, a detailed note documenting the issues discussed and outcomes of the meeting, will assist in ensuring this time is recovered.
More than one fee earner
attending on parties
We felt this should come in at number 1 and this remains a common reduction, but also accounts for, in most cases, the biggest reductions made to a bill of costs, given the level of the time disallowed.
It is notoriously difficult to recover the time of more than one fee earner for attending upon the parties, as the court deems this
to be duplication of costs. This view has been further endorsed by the OPG within their costs guidance document (SD9). Page 7 paragraph 4 refers.
However, it is worthwhile pointing out that the guidance states “The SCCO allows the cost of one fee earner in all except the most exceptional cases”. Indeed, we have had previous successes in recovering the work
of more than one fee earner in a few cases, where it was felt the circumstances of the case justified the same. We were required to appeal the initial assessment (where this time had been disallowed) to recover the same.
Partners In Costs
It is seldom the court will allow the attendance of more than one fee earner for reasons such as introducing a junior fee earner to the family so they can liaise directly with them going forward to mitigate costs. The court is also reluctant to allow the time for a second fee earner attending a meeting to take notes. Perhaps surprisingly, the court
is also unlikely to allow the costs of a second fee earner attending even where there are safety issues in attending a meeting (the court is of the view this does not necessarily need the input of a second fee earner).

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