Analysis: Court of Protection estimates
Court of Protection work has so far escaped the regime changes being made under the Jackson reforms. However, recent Good Practice Guidelines from the OPG/SCCO refer to key changes for 2016; one of particular importance is that the Deputy is now required to submit an estimate of next year’s general management costs (Form OPG105) when submitting the Annual Deputyship Report.
The completed Form OPG105 is then to be attached to next year’s general management bill of costs when submitting for assessment to the SCCO.
The format of the estimate follows the old Form H, i.e. Part 1 (costs incurred), Part 2 (an estimate of work to be carried out). It should be noted that the requirement is for an estimate only – it is not a costs budget or a cost cap.
Deputies should be aware that it appears the ‘old’ 20% rule from PD 6.5 (a) applies, i.e. if the estimate has been exceeded by 20% or more, an explanation has to be provided at page 3 of the OPG Form.
Accordingly, it would be prudent for the Deputy to liaise closely with their Costs Lawyer in the preparation of the estimate to avoid a reduction on detailed assessment.
While the Good Practice Guide states that estimates are not binding upon assessment; in practice it is envisaged that PD6.5(a) if the Court considers the reasons provided to be insufficient, the difference (between the estimate and the Bill of Costs) may well be disallowed as unreasonable or disproportionate will be applied.
Ultimately, it will be for the SCCO to assess the professional Deputy’s costs at the end of the reporting year and for the Deputy to explain any variances to them, with reference to the estimate.
Kim Parker - Costs Lawyer, Civil & Commercial
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