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At Brough Partners, we are proud to specialise in a range of areas of costs law including Court of Protection (COP). Our Managing Director Andrew Brough recently attended the ACL breakout group led by Costs Judge Jennifer James.

Here we learn about his five top takeaways. From how COP costs are on the increase, (and why a solicitor may need to instruct a costs agent), to what costs practitioners could be learning from these cases.

1. The number of COP costs cases submitted for assessment to the Senior Court Costs Office (SCCO) continue to rise. In fact, the figure has almost doubled in the last ten years, with 5,598 assessments taken place in 2013 compared to 9,188 in 2022. With the number of COP bills projected to increase further in 2023, it is no surprise that the SCCO continue to recruit Costs Officers to analyse and evaluate costs claims prepared by costs practitioners on behalf of COP solicitors.

2. Deputies can elect to have their costs recovered via either fixed costs or elect for Detailed Assessment. However, the fixed costs threshold has remained low for a long period of time, only increasing periodically for inflation. Deputies therefore need to decide (in consultation with their Costs Lawyer) which route to elect for when having their costs assessed.

3. What type of COP cases get lodged for assessment? The vast majority of cases are for General Management Costs, submitted on an annual basis, covering all the professional work undertaken by a Deputy to manage their client’s affairs. Other types of claims submitted to the SCCO include applications for Statutory Wills, applications for appointment (or removal) of a Deputy together with specific applications to the COP.

4. Deputies need to be aware that only those costs which are properly recoverable should be claimed. There are various publications (such as the “Professional Deputy Costs Good Practice Guidance”) and advice issued by the Office of Public Guardian and SCCO which assist costs practitioners when preparing costs claims. Helping them decide what should (and should not) be included.

5. At the SCCO the majority of matters are assessed by a dedicated team of Costs Officers (‘COs’). The more junior COs deal with bills up to a value of £35,000 plus VAT, whereas Senior of Principal COs deal with bills up to £100,000. Beyond that level, costs claims are referred to a Costs Judge specifically tasked with COP work. After an assessment has taken place and a Deputy or Receiver wishes to lodge an appeal, a Detailed Assessment can be sought pursuant to Rule 47.19(6) following which an oral hearing will be conducted by a Costs Judge.

Need support with your COP costs law cases or have a query? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line where one of our dedicated and friendly team will be ready to support you.

For more information about how we could help you contact: Tel: 0191 300 1579

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Brough Partners

Suite 34
7-15 Pink Lane
Newcastle upon Tyne

T: 0191 300 1579