The Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, has approved a change to Guideline Hourly Rates (GHRs) to allow Chartered Legal Executives to recover costs at the same level as solicitors once they reach 8 years’ Post Qualification Experience in litigation (known as Grade A rates). The change will come into effect on 1 October.
The GHRs are the widely accepted guidelines used by the Courts in summary assessment of costs for the recoverable hourly rate for different grades of fee earner in different regions of England and Wales. The highest rate has been reserved in the past for solicitors.
The Costs Committee of the Civil Justice Council, chaired by Mr Justice Foskett and reporting to the Master of the Rolls, recommended that Chartered Legal Executives with equivalent experience should be afforded the same recognition in the guidelines; putting an end to a long-standing disparity between the two legal professions.
The Master of the Rolls, in his decision document, stated: “I also accept the recommendations to amend the criterion for Grade A fee earners so that it includes Fellows of CILEx with 8 years’ post-qualification experience (section 6.1); and that Costs Lawyers who are suitably qualified and subject to regulation be eligible for payment at GHR Grades C or B, depending on the complexity of the work (section 6.2). Both of these recommendations were supported by persuasive evidence and arguments. I propose to introduce these changes on 1 October 2014.”
CILEx president Frances Edwards said: "I am grateful to Mr Justice Foskett, the Committee and Lord Dyson for being receptive to the evidence we submitted. Many of our members have reported that the guidelines have not reflected modern practice in the sector, and that firms have not been deploying their staff, or recouping costs, to the full extent. This recommendation recognises the professional standing of Chartered Legal Executives, and will be welcomed by CILEx members and firms across the country."
The change will come into effect around the same time as Parliamentary votes to extend individual practice rights for CILEx members. The changes will give CILEx members the same choice of individual practice rights areas as other legal professionals, and the guidelines will recognise their ability to recoup their costs at equivalent rates. Votes expected later in the year will also enable them to set up their own firms.