More time to respond to Civil Justice Council hourly rates probe

Foskett: strict confidentiality

The Civil Justice Council’s costs committee has extended the deadlines for submissions to its review of the guideline hourly rates (GHR).

It will now accept responses to both the costs survey – which officially closed on Friday – and the call for written evidence, whose deadline was 6 December, until 4pm on Thursday 12 December.

Mr Justice Foskett, chairman of the committee, said the expert advisers who will be collating the survey results said they could accommodate a 10-day extension.

“We have received a few requests for an extension of last Friday’s deadline and, accordingly, feel that in order to maximise the return we should try to meet these requests if we can,” he said.

“We have also already received some responses to the call for evidence that was issued on Friday 8 November, for which we are grateful. Simply to bring the deadline for responding to that call into line with the final date for completing the survey, I can also confirm that any response received by the same time will be considered by the committee.”

The judge emphasised the strict confidentiality that is being observed by the research time. “Nothing will be published that discloses the identities of the respondents and indeed their identities will not be revealed to the committee members, its economic advisers or anyone else without the express consent of the particular respondent.

“A handful of members of the CJC secretariat will be able to access each full survey just for the purpose of checking its authenticity and of ensuring that all the data is properly transferred to the experts and then to the committee.”

Only the chairman or the vice-chairman, Senior Costs Judge Peter Hurst, will be informed of the identity of a respondent if there is some query that needs following up – but Foskett J said this had not yet been necessary.

The survey can be found here, and the link to the call for evidence here.

The committee expects to hold a small number of oral evidence sessions in early 2014, with its report, making recommendations to the Master of the Rolls, Lord Dyson, on GHR for 2014, planned for completion at the end of March 2014. It will then be for the Master of the Rolls to take the decision on setting rates for 2014. This will then become an annual exercise.

Read Mr Justice Foskett’s blog on the committee’s work here.