In welcome news for practitioners, changes have this week been announced to address what PIBA describes as 'long-standing flaws in the fixed recoverable costs (FRC) regime for advocates'. These include:

  1. The failure to increase fixed advocacy fees in line with inflation for over a decade.

    In summary: Advocates' fees will in April see a 23% increase as compared to pre-October 2023. There is, as yet, no sign of an automatic annual inflation-linked increase.

  2. The inability of advocates to recover fees for work done where cases are vacated or settled close to trial.

In summary: On the fast track, advocacy fees will be recoverable at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% two days before trial. On the intermediate track, advocacy fees will be recoverable at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% up to five days before trial.

The above changes come into force on 6 April 2024.

It is hoped that the change to the rules regarding vacated or settled trials especially will encourage earlier negotiation, but also appears to solve a perennial problem faced by counsel instructed at trial on a CFA basis, where they are not paid for trials vacated at the last minute (often the afternoon before) and are then unable to find alternative court work.

Other notable developments include:

  1. Confirmation that clinical negligence cases will only be allocated to the intermediate track, rather than the multi-track, where there is a full admission of liability in the pre-action protocol letter of response.
  2. Inquest costs will now be recoverable, bringing FRC cases in line with the principles applied outside this regime.
  3. Provision for the recovery of the costs of restoring a company to the Register.

PIBA Chair Charles Bagot KC expressed satisfaction that 'that the Government has finally listened and these overdue changes are now being made' in a press release found here.

The Bar Council announcement can be found here.

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