An Introduction to High Cost Case Plans
Under Public Funding Certificates, High Cost Cases come into effect when the total costs of a case are estimated to exceed £25,000.00. It is important for solicitors to be aware of their on-going costs and to register a case as High Cost when the costs are still under £25,000.00 but the future costs are estimated to go over £25,000.00. A date will be given by the LAA when the mater has been acknowledged as a High Cost Case and costs before this date will be referred to as Pre-Contract Costs and costs after this date as Post-Contract Costs.
Solicitors need to note that the Pre-Contract Costs will be limited to the cost limitation of the Public Funding Certificate at the date of registering therefore it is important for solicitors to incrementally increase their cost limitation up until registering the case otherwise costs will be limited.
Once a mater has been registered then solicitors have 4 weeks to submit a Case Plan outlining their Pre-Contract costs and future estimated costs. The High Cost Cases Unit have 2 different types of Case Plans solicitors can use which are the Fully Costed Case Plan and the Care Case Fee Scheme Case Plan (formerly known as an events Based Case Plan).
The Fully Costed Case Plan shows a breakdown of Pre-Contract Costs and then stages are included which show estimated costs for future hearings/work which has been timetabled by the Court. These future costs include solicitor’s costs, disbursements and Counsel’s fees.
- Solicitors need to note that when a case becomes a High Cost Case it then falls outside of the Fixed Fee and FAS Schemes therefore solicitor’s costs are calculated at the appropriate publicly funded hourly rate.
A Care Case Fee Scheme Case Plan is based on payments made for each Event within proceedings. An Event for a solicitor is any hearing day and Advocates’ Meetings timetabled by the Court. Solicitors will be paid an Event fee for each of these, with differing Event Fees being claimable based on whether the main hearing is up to and including 10 days or 11 days and over and which Court the matter is currently in. A main hearing is a Fact Finding hearing and/or Final Hearing (for Counsel it is different in that Counsel is paid FAS/FGF fees for main hearings up to and including 10 days and then an Event Fee for main hearings over 11 days.).
Within the Care Case Fee Scheme Case Plans there are also 3 different versions and these are the newly introduced Solicitor Advocates Care Case Fee Scheme (where solicitors undertake the majority of the hearings), the Single Counsel Care Case Fee Scheme (where counsel undertake the majority of the hearings) and QC/Two Counsel Care Case Fee Scheme (where authority has been given for either a Leading or Junior Counsel or two Junior Counsel to attend the hearings).
- Again it is important to remember that although under the Care Case Fee Scheme costs are paid as Events fees, within the Case Plan template there is a place to include an estimate of solicitor’s Pre-Contract Costs at the appropriate publicly funded hourly rate. This allows the High Cost Cases Unit to check that solicitors have not exceeded their cost limitation at the time of registering the matter.
If appropriate to your case, the Care Case Fee Scheme Case Plans are a much simpler way of estimating future costs and, according to the LAA, a much quicker way of having a High Costs Case Contract agreed by the LAA. These Case Plans do not require files to be fully costed on a Claim 1 but at the end of proceedings a Claim 1 is still required, though limited to pages 1,2,6 & 7.
further guidance on High Cost Cases, Case Plan templates and Case Plan cover sheets can be found here.
If you have any questions in relation to the above article, further questions in relation to High Costs Cases or any costing queries in general click here to email Claire our Head of Care & Family.