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Guideline Hourly Rates and Assessing Costs

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Samsung Electronics & Co. Ltd & Ors v LG Display Co. Ltd & Anor [2022] EWCA Civ 466

In a short judgment, the court of appeal again gave its view upon the applicability of the  Guideline Hourly Rates, how to consider their applicability, even in highly complex matters, and what is required to be shown in order to justify seeking fees in excess of those proposed.

The successful party sought fees of £1,100.00 per hour.Lord Justice Males at paragraph 3:

…these are well above the guideline hourly rates set out in Appendix 2 to the "Summary Assessment of Costs" guide published in the White Book. Those guideline rates for London 1, which applies to "very heavy commercial and corporate work by centrally based London firms", are £512 for Grade A (solicitors and legal executives with over eight years' experience) and £270 for Grade C (solicitors and legal executives with less than four years' experience and other fee earners of equivalent experience). In some cases, therefore, the rates claimed are more than double the guideline rates.

At paragraph 4:-

“The guide recognises that in substantial and complex litigation an hourly rate in excess of the guideline figures may sometimes be appropriate, giving as examples "the value of the litigation, the level of the complexity, the urgency or importance of the matter, as well as any international element". However, it is important to have in mind that the guideline rates for London 1 already assume that the litigation in question qualifies as "very heavy commercial work"

And at paragraph 6

“I regard that as no justification at all. If a rate in excess of the guideline rate is to be charged to the paying party, a clear and compelling justification must be provided. It is not enough to say that the case is a commercial case, or a competition case, or that it has an international element, unless there is something about these factors in the case in question which justifies exceeding the guideline rate.”

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