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Good news: the Bar Council and PIBA secure fixed recoverable costs uplift

 

I am delighted to be able to tell you that rule changes have been announced today, coming into force on 6 April 2024, to address two long-standing flaws in the fixed recoverable costs (FRC) regime for advocates namely:

  • The failure properly to uprate those fees for inflation for more than a decade. Advocates’ fees in FRC cases will see a 23% increase, implemented on 6 April 2024, as compared to pre-October 2023 fees. Whereas the original October 2023 rules only uprated fees from 2016, they are now being uprated from 2013, when they were last fixed;

 

  • The inability of advocates to recover a fee for work done where cases are vacated or settled close to trial. The changes announced mean:
    • On the fast track (cases of up to £25,000 in value), 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 (cases of up to £100,000 in value), 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.

Today’s joint Bar Council and PIBA press release can be viewed here.

The Government’s Consultation response, issued today, setting out the changes to the FRC regime in more detail is here.

These changes will of course benefit barristers working across the fields of civil work in the County Courts but, particularly, PIBA members who conduct so many of the fast track and intermediate track cases.

Although the latest consultation response commits to reviewing fixed fee levels within 3 years (from October 2023), PIBA and the Bar Council continue to lobby for automatic annual inflation-linked uprating.  

Other changes to FRC cases have also been announced which will also be welcomed by PIBA members, including:

  • Clarifying 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;
  • Inquest costs will be recoverable, bringing FRC cases in line with the principles applied outside this regime;
  • Providing for the recovery of the costs of restoring a company to the Register.

The welcome changes announced today reflect a sustained lobbying campaign by PIBA over years and countless hours of effort by successive PIBA Officers and Executive Committee members during that time. On your behalf, I thank them all. Particular thanks should go to Martyn McLeish, who has been at the forefront of PIBA’s efforts on FRC for many years.

In the past year, PIBA’s efforts have had the determined backing of the Bar Leadership. PIBA is enormously grateful to current Chair of the Bar, Sam Townend KC (and his predecessor Nick Vineall KC) and the Bar Council staff team, for their concerted efforts in partnership with PIBA, through multiple meetings with Ministers, the MOJ and the Judiciary, many written submissions and consultation responses, speeches and interventions at the Civil Justice Council (and similar) conferences. When last year the original draft rules did not properly address long-standing problems, the Bar Council sent a letter before action, as a precursor to a Judicial Review.

It is welcome news that the Government has finally listened and these overdue changes are now being made.

Charles Bagot KC

PIBA Chair