In our latest costs column from A&M Bacon, Emma Robinett sets out a reminder of when you can apply for general management costs.
For this update we thought it would be useful to look at time frames for submitting bills to the Court of Protection.
Application to be appointed as deputy
Of course, the very first step to seeking authority to act on behalf of P is the application to be appointed as deputy. This can sometimes be a lengthy process due to a number of factors, perhaps a delay in obtaining the COP 3 assessment of capacity or a backlog at the Court of Protection.
Each step of work undertaken prior to receiving the order appointing the deputy incurs costs.
At A&M, we recommend that as soon as the order is received, a bill is submitted reflecting all work associated with the application to be appointed as deputy, up until the date of the order. There is no need to wait to claim these as costs incurred throughout the course of the general management year.
The order itself provides these costs to be recovered under the heading “costs and expenses”. The order reads along the lines of “The deputy is entitled to receive fixed costs in relation to this application, and to receive fixed costs for the general management of P’s affairs. If the deputy would prefer the costs to be assessed, this order is to be treated as authority to the SCCO to carry out a detailed assessment on the standard basis”.
General management costs
Once the order has been received, the deputy will then begin the management of P’s affairs during the first year of general management. The order will show the date the order was made and the date the order has been entered. At the end of a reporting period, deputies are entitled to claim reasonable costs for the work completed during the course of the deputyship year. Commonly the bill reflecting costs incurred in the first year will be a short year, as the deputy can claim costs from when the order is received (that is when the order is entered) until the date the order was made (the following year). Once the first year of general management is complete, then costs will be accounted for on a yearly basis.
Order made 14 June 2020 and entered 24 June 2020.
We can prepare a bill of costs from the date the deputy was approached (the inception date) to 24 June 2020. Year 1 of GM would run from 25 June 2020 to 13 June 2021 and then annually (14 June – 13 June) thereafter. This assumes, of course, the WIP exceeds £950 plus VAT (being the amount of fixed costs you are allowed to take for the application work).
Upon completion of the general management year, the deputy is able to submit their bill of costs.
Whilst there is no deadline for submission, we recommend that this is completed as soon as possible to prevent any delays in the deputy receiving their costs and to improve cash flow. This may also assist with the effective management of P’s affairs, as it ensures all liabilities are calculated and discharged in quick time.
There are special circumstances in which the Court may assess a period longer or shorter than the general management year, if it is in P’s best interests. An example of this could be if a deputy was to retire shortly after the general management period: in such a case the Court would be likely to allow the costs to be reflected in one bill up until the date of the deputy retiring. The court can also on occasion, assess costs “early”, if, for example, the deputy needs to crystallise P’s debts to assist with an ongoing care funding application. In this example, the court may entertain the assessment of period shorter than the general management year. The reasons for this would need to be explained to the costs officer in the narrative to the bill to ensure these costs were assessed.
Special circumstances are at the Court’s discretion and would be considered on a case by case basis.
Emma Robinett - Costs Lawyer – A&M Bacon Ltd
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