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Costs In The Court Of Protection

22 June 2017

Changes introduced in March 2016 are now starting to bite!

In March 2016, the CoP introduced form OPG105 with the aim of controlling Deputies costs although the guidance to accompany the form was not published until months after the form came into use.

The form operates in a similar way to a budget and ensures that costs are proportionate both to the issues and the estate. The form must be submitted with any bill to the SCCO on assessment so that it can be taken into account by the Costs Masters when assessing the overall costs. A 20% rule is applied so that if the total on the bill exceeds the total on OPG105, a satisfactory explanation must also be provided.

The guidance provides some additional information as to what will be allowed, including: that save where a case is exceptional, the guideline hourly rates will apply; routine tasks should be delegated to junior or non fee earners; three minutes will be allowed for arranging payment and for short, routine letters; contact with parties should be kept as far as possible to a minimum, including contact with the client (one home visit per annum being considered appropriate save if there are particular circumstances); any work undertaken in respect of welfare must have permission from the COP to be recoverable; duplication (i.e., more than one person at a meeting) and research are not recoverable items and file notes must be provided to support the work undertaken.

Of course, some forms will have been completed before the guidance was issued, but as bills must be completed annually, this should not prove too much of an issue for the SCCO to deal with.