In the case of Garylee Grimsley – 23 December 1998 Master O’Hare referred to R -v- Legal Aid Board Ex Parte Bruce (1991). He stated that
“Solicitors are not to be expected to carry knowledge of all the law in their heads… if the problem is outside the scope of their experience they will wish to discuss it with others who are more qualified… But knowledge of the law, however acquired or recalled, is their stock in trade… In so far as expense is involved in adding to this stock in trade, it is an overhead expense and not something that can be charged to the client”
Furthermore, it was determined that inter fee earner communication and memorandums were not recoverable in accordance with SCCO Practice Direction No.2 of 1992 (paragraph 1.8)
In the case of Tina Jayne Cloughton – 23 November 1999 Master O’Hare determined that work should be delegated to more junior fee earners where suitable in order to limit costs. However, he also directed that the Deputy should be careful not to duplicate work undertaken by colleagues as duplication was not recoverable.
Master O’Hare determined in the matter of Jamie Walker – November 2002 that checking invoices, preparing the cheque, and preparing a covering letter were not fee earner tasks.
He also disallowed time spent on incoming correspondence on the basis that
“Routine letter out and routine telephone calls will in general be allowed on a unit basis of 6 minutes each… The unit charge for letters out will include perusing and considering the relevant letters in and no separate charge should be made for incoming letters”
It is becoming commonplace for the costs of Court Visitor assurance visits to be disallowed as an overhead. The Office of the Public Guardian have advised the SCCO that
“The OPG undertakes assurance visits to professional deputies on a cycle that is currently once every three years. The visit aims to give the Public Guardian assurances regarding the deputy’s management of all of their deputyship clients and therefore the cost should be spread across their caseload. The assurance visit consists of questions and evidence gathering covering a range of professional deputy standards resulting in assurances about the standards of their work and effective management of all of their cases. We are therefore of the view that the work done in relation to an assurance visit should be subsumed by solicitors overheads.”
As the starting point for these visits are that they are not recoverable costs, it is recommended that the Solicitor identify issues discussed in detail. This information may identify issues, which not only support the conduct of the subsequent work undertaken but may also support a claim for some or all of the time for the assurance visit.
Please note: The Guidance and interpretation on these articles are merely a summary of our interpretation of the subject. We accept no liability for any misconstrued understanding of such issues and interpretations, nor any loss or damage sustained as a result of any reliance upon such views.