The Bar Council and Personal Injuries Bar Association (PIBA) have hailed changes to the fixed recoverable costs for advocacy fees in civil cases that will see a 23.5% increase in fees.
The changes come after the Bar Council and PIBA argued first that advocates must be paid for work done when cases are vacated or settled close to trial, and second, that fees had fallen far behind where they should be as they had not been uprated in line with inflation for over a decade.
The Government has announced that the changes, to be brought in through two Civil Procedure Rules statutory instruments (one that came into force last October and one that will come into force this April), will uprate fees in line with inflation calculated from 2013 to January 2023. Initially, the Government proposed an increase from 2016, but the Bar Council and PIBA argued it must be backdated to 2013 when the fees were last fixed.
In addition, the Government has agreed to introduce measures to make sure barristers are paid for work done in cases that are vacated or settled late:
- On the fast track (cases of up to £25,000 in value), advocacy fees can be recovered at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% two days before trial.
- On the intermediate track (cases of up to £100,000 in value), advocacy fees can be recovered at 100% on the day of the trial and the day before, and 75% up to five days before trial.
Sam Townend KC, Chair of the Bar Council, said:
“The increase in fees and widening scope of fee recovery in cases that are vacated or settled shortly before trial is long overdue and welcome.
“In securing these changes, we argued that barristers should be paid a reasonable fee for work done, and that the costs regime should help, not hinder, settlement and getting the backlogs in the county courts down. We continue to work to secure a commitment to automatic annual inflation-linked uprating.
“We are really pleased with today’s announcement as the fee increases will particularly benefit more junior barristers who generally carry out this work. As in crime and family work, we need a pipeline of excellent court advocates in order to ensure a workforce to provide good quality access to justice for the public. These changes are a good step in the right direction. We hope that more can now be done on legal aid in crime and family matters to help make a career in these areas of work become sustainable.”
In June 2023 the Bar Council issued a letter before action when Government proposals stopped short of rectifying the problems identified by the Bar Council. In September 2023 the Bar Council and PIBA submitted a strong response to the Government consultation calling for the system to be reformed.
The Ministry of Justice consultation response, setting out the next steps on fixed recoverable fees is available on the Civil Procedure Rule Committee web page.
This is the Fixed Recoverable Costs Consultation Response (PDF) document published today.