News In Focus
Fees review and Taylor review documents published by SCJC
Two papers dealing with solicitors' fees in the Scottish civil courts have today been published by the Costs & Funding Committee of the Scottish Civil Justice Council (SCJC).
In its Report on the consultation on the Review of Fees in the Scottish Civil Courts: Fees of solicitors, the SCJC summarises the responses received and sets out key areas emerging from the responses.
Overall, respondents indicated a desire for general increases to the absolute rates of recoverable fees specified in the relevant tables of fees, such as on an inflationary basis, together with various particular amendments to the calculation of fees in respect of particular procedural aspects.
However the committee felt that the 19 responses received provided it with "limited material that would serve to inform its deliberations on setting of an appropriate recoverable hourly rate that underpins the judicial tables of fees".
The committee subscribes to the principle that any fee increases should, where possible, be evidence based, but the responses did not "provide clear evidence to demonstrate movements in solicitors’ costs since the last general increase in the level of fees in March 2014".
As an interim measure, the SCJC approved a recommendation from the committee to increase the underlying hourly rate for fees of solicitors by 5%. The Act of Sederunt (Fees of Solicitors in the Court of Session, Sheriff Appeal Court and Sheriff Court Amendment) 2018 applied this to new fees from 24 September 2018.
Modification of fees in personal injury actions was supported on the basis that the existing fee structure is "generally productive of fee recovery that is disproportionate to the value of claims, particularly in low value cases, and 'susceptible to abuse' in a number of particular respects". Several respondents proposed that a table of fixed or scale fees ought to apply, more extensively than at present, to low value claims.
Analysis of responses has also identified concern about the impact of fees and disbursements relating to technological management of documents. The committee has agreed to consider this feedback in future fees reviews.
A summary of the SCJC’s work to date on implementation of the recommendations in chapters 2 to 4 of Sheriff Principal Taylor’s Review of Expenses and Funding of Civil Litigation in Scotland has also been published.
The review and implementation of Sheriff Principal Taylor's recommendations, developed by the Costs & Funding Committee, was combined with a wider restructuring and rationalisation of the rules regulating the taxation of expenses in civil proceedings.
At its November 2018 meeting, the Council approved two draft instruments, Act of Sederunt (Taxation of Judicial Expenses Rules) 2019 and Act of Sederunt (Rules of the Court of Session, Sheriff Appeal Court Rules and Ordinary Cause Rules Amendment) (Taxation of Judicial Expenses) 2019, for submission to the Court of Session, which will be made in due course.
The draft rules will recast the provisions for the taxation of expenses, reframe the table of fees to provide for unit-based charging and take account of the Taylor recommendations.