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The Master of the Rolls has today announced that the Guideline Hourly rates (GHRs) will remain the same for the time being.
The Master of the Rolls has concluded that he cannot, at this time, make any changes to the rates. The issue is the need for much more comprehensive data to be available for the committee. Despite this, some recommendations set out in the report have been accepted by the Master of the Rolls.
This is the first review of GHR by the Civil Justice Council Costs Committee; it was previous undertaken by Master of the Rolls, but, on 31 October 2012, the Government announced that this role would be transferred to the CJC from January 2013. The CJC set up the Costs Committee to carry out the review. The committee was asked to provide a ‘comprehensive evidence-based review’ of the GHR with a view to then making recommendations to the Master of the Rolls. Difficulties have been encountered in seeking to make recommendations as to new hourly rates. This is clearly set out by the Chairman of the committee, The Honourable Mr Justice Foskett, in his letter to the Master of the Rolls (see Recommended Documents). While the committee made recommendations for new GHR, it did so with ‘considerable reservations’.
The Master of the Rolls concluded that he could not accept the recommendations to change the GHRs, on the basis of the concerns expressed by the committee in its report. These were:
The Master of the Rolls in making his decision, wrote:
The present situation is deeply unsatisfactory. GHRs are needed to guide summary and detailed assessments of costs. There needs to be public confidence that there is a reliable basis for them. I propose, therefore, to have urgent discussions with The Law Society and the Government to see what steps can be taken to obtain evidence on which GHRs can reasonably and safely be based.
I have reached my conclusions after the most careful consideration and with considerable regret. But it would be wrong to make decisions as to appropriate GHRs which are not based on sufficiently robust evidence. It is imperative that sound and reliable evidence is obtained.
The other issue to consider was the fact that, during the period since the committee was set up, civil litigation costs have undergone a seismic change with the introduction of the Jackson Reforms. The committee did not take these into account. The Master of the Rolls considered that the committee was right to take this approach but noted that the reforms may well have created considerable uncertainty, at least in the short term.
These are set out in the CJC Costs Committee report
Recommendations to be implemented on 1 October 2014
Recommendations not to change the current position
Recommendations which have been rejected
Read our previous discussion of GHRs here and find further details here.
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Janna is a dispute resolution lawyer. She deals primarily with cross border issues and is active in the work being undertaken in relation to the implications of Brexit for Dispute Resolutions lawyers. Janna also heads up a LexisNexis costs team bringing together expertise from across the company to deal with the costs issues facing the profession.
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