The costs committee of the Civil Justice Council (CJC) has postponed completion of its report on guideline hourly rates (GHR) until later this month.
The CJC was originally due to deliver its report and recommendations to the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, by 31 March 2014.
In a statement, the CJC said today that the costs committee had “sought to undertake a comprehensive review, and the complexity of the issue and the breadth of evidence considered has meant the timetable has been longer than originally anticipated”.
The CJC said that the costs committee had hoped to complete its report by mid-April, but was holding a further meeting in mid-May to finalise the figures it would be recommending for the rates and also the geographic bands to which the rates will apply.
The CJC added that the Master of the Rolls had been consulted and was “content for the committee to have a short extension of time to complete its work”.
In its response to the committee’s call for evidence last autumn, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) called for rates to go up by nearly a fifth if access to justice was to be protected.
APIL noted that the GHR had remained substantially unchanged since 1 January 2009, while the retail prices index increased by 19.8% and the consumer prices index by 16.7%.
Meanwhile City solicitors accused the CJC costs committee of pursuing a “flawed” approach that, if implemented, could reduce the international attractiveness of litigation in England and Wales.
The City of London Law Society’s litigation committee said the CJC’s approach “will not lead to its guideline rates reflecting market reality but rather to the CJC determining what, in its view, successful litigants should recover by way of costs.”
It argued that the CJC was “ill-equipped to make an economic and social decision as to what profit solicitors’ firms should make, nor is it appropriate for it to do so given the highly competitive nature of the market”.