The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has called on solicitors to ensure that they participate in the latest review of guideline hourly rates.
HHJ Hodge QC, the circuit judge member of the Civil Justice Council costs committee which will conduct the review has said that a call for evidence is expected at the beginning of November.
Speaking at the ACL Costs Conference in Manchester last week, he also said that there would only be a month in which for lawyers to respond, but that there would also be a chance for professional bodies and firms to provide oral evidence in February next year.
Murray Heining, chairman of the ACL, said that although the guideline rates were a benchmark and not the fixed rates some believe them to be, the committee’s work would lay the foundations of costs assessments for years to come.
"This process will make the GHR even more influential than they already are and it is imperative that Costs Lawyers and solicitors ensure that the committee has all the information it needs to recommend realistic and viable new rates,” he said
The rates were last increased in 2010, informed by data from 2007, according to Judge Hodge and given the impact of the Jackson reforms and alternative business structures, the need for a comprehensive review was clear, he said.
Other issues the commission may look at include whether there should be distinct rates set for significant areas of litigation, such as personal injury and clinical negligence, as well as re-examining geographical bands.
The committee will make recommendations to the Master of the Rolls by 31 March 2014 to assist him in setting new rates.